Opposition Senator Leila M. de Lima has urged the Duterte administration to “assume a friendly approach” to community pantries after Interior Secretary Eduardo Año issued a warning that pantries face the possibility of being shut down if health protocols are violated in the process.
De Lima, a social justice and human rights champion, said that instead of suggesting the halt of the operations of community pantries, the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) should instead encourage and help in ensuring the enforcement of health protocols.
“If this administration no longer has the capability or interest to give additional aid to our countrymen, the least they can do is help make the community pantries safe for everyone. Ang pagbabanta sa mga community pantries ay direktang pag-atake sa kumakalam na sikmura ng mamamayan,” she said.
“Hindi ba dapat saluhin ng local at barangay officials yung pagtitiyak na nasusunod ang health protocol kahit sa mga community pantries? Sa halip na ipasara yung mga pantries, hindi ba mas mabuting utusan ng DILG ang mga barangay officials at mga pulis na tumulong?” she added.
Based on media reports, Año reminded organizers of community pantries to adhere to COVID-19 health and safety protocols because failure to do so is supposedly ground for closure.
Año further said that he will issue an advisory and memo to the local government units (LGUs) on the best way to handle community pantries initiated by the private sector and individuals.
The lady Senator from Bicol likewise maintained that the government should work with community pantries instead of being an obstacle to their mission.
“Kulang ang ayuda ng gobyerno kaya pumipila ang mga tao. Tumulong na lang tayo sa pagtitiyak ng kanilang kaligtasan habang kumukuha sila ng ayuda sa mga community pantries. Kapag pinasara natin ang mga community pantries, sino pa ang tutulong sa mga nangangailangan ngayong panahon ng pandemya?,” she said.
“Thankfully, we have true Filipinos like Patreng Non who devised a way through which the support and donations of our kababayans reach those who are in need,” she added.
Non is the woman behind the original community pantry dubbed as “Maginhawa Community Pantry” which was first set up on April 14. Amid concerns of overcrowding, the pantry is now implementing a new decentralized pantry system with the delivery of goods to barangays in the Diliman area in Quezon City. (30)