Feeding programs allowed under Luzon lockdown: PNP

Arianne Merez, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Mar 20 2020 01:39 PM

A local resident of a depressed community in Barangay Paligsahan, Quezon City receives relief goods from barangay officers on March 19, 2020. Fernando G. Sepe Jr., ABS-CBN News

MANILA - Feeding programs for the poor are allowed to continue under the month-long lockdown of Luzon, the Philippine National Police said Friday as street dwellers were left on the sidelines of the government’s program to control the spread of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).

Some establishments and shelters that provide food to the poor have suspended their operations as law enforcers locked down on the observance of social distancing measures in public places, leaving the marginalized more helpless.

“If this is addressed to the less fortunate, then I think what should be observed is the social distancing. But it should not prohibit especially if ang pinapakain natin ay ang less fortunate of our society,” PNP chief General Archie Gamboa said in a televised briefing Friday.

The Department of Social Welfare and Development, meanwhile, said it is coordinating with different local government units on protocols on how to address the situation of street dwellers, its spokesperson Irene Dumlao said.

Food packs prepared by the agency include rice, assorted canned goods, and energy drinks, she said.

“'Pag may nirereport na homeless families, we are working with [the] LGU (local government unit) para sila ay mabigyan ng necessary assistance,” she said in an interview on radio DZMM.

(If there are homeless families being reported, we are working with the LGU to give them necessary assistance.)

On Thursday, police and barangay officials in Manila stopped a feeding and care program for the homeless at a Catholic shelter, saying social distancing rules were not followed. Fr. Flavie Villanueva, who heads the shelter, however, said distancing guidelines were observed, as evidenced by photos. 

The government earlier rolled out a P27.1-billion economic package to provide relief to sectors affected by the economic slowdown due to the virus outbreak.