Opposition Senator Leila M. de Lima has lauded the joint efforts of Filipino people from different social classes to ensure that immediate food relief will be provided to residents affected by COVID-19 pandemic through their contributions in community pantries that have been set up within Metro Manila and other provinces.
De Lima, Chairperson of the Senate Committee on Social Justice, Welfare and Rural Development, acknowledged the success of the Maginhawa Community Pantry which inspired different barangay residents to set up their own community pantries.
“The setup of a community pantry of essential goods in Maginhawa, Quezon City is truly commendable as it created a ripple effect that inspired citizens from different parts of the country to come to the aid of those struggling to feed their families amid the pandemic,” she said.
“Saludo po tayo sa mga kababayan nating nagkukusang-loob na tumulong. As we see strangers helping strangers during these hard times, we are reminded that Filipinos’ Bayanihan spirit is very-much alive and that a simple act of kindness goes a long way,” she added.
The original community pantry dubbed as “Maginhawa Community Pantry” was first set up on April 14 with a bamboo cart and two cardboard signs beside a tree in Maginhawa, the area in Quezon City known as a food hub, by Patreng Non who said she started the pantry because she is tired of the (government’s) inaction.
Non first stocked the pantry with vegetables she bought from local vendors, along with basic necessities from the grocery including alcohol, face masks, canned goods, and rice.
With the tenet of “Magbigay ayon sa kakayahan, kumuha batay sa pangangailangan,” the pantry’s purpose is to build a community that will give and take by their own will, without the intervention of third parties.
The said community pantry was replicated in various neighborhoods from as near as the Sikatuna Village also in Quezon City and all the way to Sampaloc, Manila, to as far as Bayombong, Nueva Vizcaya.
“Lubos tayong nagpapasalamat sa mga gaya ni Patreng na may mabubuting loob at tunay na malasakit sa kapwa, sa kanyang malikhaing pag-iisip at kahandaang tumulong sa gitna ng pandemya. Sa kabila ng kawalang aksyon at pagkukulang ng mga inaasahang tumugon sa krisis, nakita natin ang mga walang alintanang magbukas-palad upang sama-sama nating malampasan ang pagsubok na kinakaharap ng bansa at ng mga Pilipino,” De Lima stressed.
While Non stressed that community pantries cannot address the root cause of hunger incidence rate in the country amid the height of COVID-19 pandemic, she said that “Okay na din na pantawid gutom sa mga nangangailangan. Mahirap magtrabaho, mag-aral at lumaban habang kumakalam ang tyan.”
Meanwhile, De Lima urged the national and local government to support the communities setting up community pantries and step up their efforts to assist the Filipinos greatly affected by the crisis.
“While the community pantries showed the good in people, it also highlighted the government’s lack of support for Filipinos. I hope that this recent initiative by the public will prompt the government to step up its COVID-19 response. Ang kailangan: Bayanihan, hindi kapabayaan,” she said.
Last October 2020, De Lima filed Senate Resolution (SR) No. 534 underscoring the need to review and re-evaluate the intermediate and long-term policy and program interventions of the national government surrounding hunger and food insecurity that has affected generations of Filipinos. (30)