THE Philippine Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) is urging community pantry organizers to coordinate with local government units (LGUs) and police to ensure the proper observance of health and safety protocols.
“You may have given food, but this may lead to a (COVID-19) surge, outbreak or transmission, and you defeat the purpose,” Interior Secretary Eduardo Año said in an interview with dzBB on Sunday, April 25.
“Coordination is important in order to avoid what happened before, wherein someone died,” he added.
Año was referring to the elderly man who collapsed and died while lining up at a community pantry set up by actress Angel Locsin last week.
Likewise, the Metro Manila Council (MMC) urged organizers to coordinate with LGUs first before setting up community pantries.
In a resolution shared by the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) on Sunday, the Metro Manila mayors said coordination is needed to ensure that the gains
recorded during the recent imposition of strict quarantine measures are not wasted.
“While the organizers of community pantries exemplify collective charity and concern for the plight of the underprivileged and are truly worthy of emulation, support, and praise, the primordial minimum public health standards under the prevailing community quarantine must remain paramount,” read Resolution No. 21-08 Series of 2021.
“The sacrifices endured and gains accumulated during the ECQ and MECQ must not be put to waste by a disregard of the prohibition on mass gatherings, observance of social distancing, and the wearing of face masks and face shields,” it added.
Community pantries started popping out in Metro Manila, as well as in some provinces, after the first pantry set up on April 14 along Maginhawa Street in Quezon City went viral.
On Friday, April 23, Locsin organized a community pantry in Quezon City for her 36th birthday.
Due to the number of people that turned up, however, the staff failed to control the crowd and implement social distancing.
Rolando Dela Cruz, 67, collapsed while waiting for his turn to receive his goods. He was rushed to East Avenue Medical Center but was pronounced dead at around 9:20 am.
“Humihingi po ako ng tawad sa pamilya. Kanina po pinuntahan at nakapagusap po kami ng personal ng mga anak nya sa ospital. At habang buhay po ako hihingi ng patawad sa kanila (I’m asking for forgiveness from the family. A while ago, I went and talked personally to the children in the hospital. And I will be asking for forgiveness from them for the rest of my life),” said Locsin in a Facebook post.
“I will prioritize helping the family and I will make it my responsibility to help them get through this. I am very very sorry,” she added.
UP exec steps down
The University of the Philippines on Sunday announced that UP Executive Vice President Teodoro Herbosa has resigned due to “personal reasons.”
Herbosa, who is a special adviser to the National Task Force Against COVID-19, drew flak after tweeting “Death by community pantry. I told you so!” in response to the incident that occurred on Locsin’s birthday.
“I sincerely apologize for my tweet earlier today, tagging as ‘death by community pantry’ news of a senior citizen’s death at a community pantry of a celebrity,” said Herbosa in a Facebook post on April 23.
“It may have sounded like a criticism but was ill-judged, when many are facing hardships and being helped by these kind-hearted souls,” he added. “I apologize to sincere organizers of community pantries who were hurt. I continue to reflect on the impact of my behavior.”
UP President Danilo Concepcion accepted his resignation, “expressing his regret from the fact that Herbosa had served the University with great dedication,” the university said in a statement.
“In your service as Executive Vice President, you have shown how vital this position can be to the governance of the University,” said Concepcion in his letter accepting Herbosa’s resignation.
However, he noted that “it is imperative that there be consistency and harmony in our relationship as administrators, as well as in our public pronouncements, given that we both represent the larger University community, its spirit, and its interests.” n