MANILA - A co-organizer of a community pantry in Matatag Street, Quezon City on Tuesday slammed government authorities for red-tagging community pantries and requiring them to apply for permits.
"Hindi na nga mabigay 'yong sapat na tulong sa mga kababayan natin, pinapahirapan pa nila 'yong gustong tumulong. Bakit hihingi pa ng permit? Ang dami-daming gustong tumulong, gusto pa nilang i-regulate?" Dr. Herbert Docena of Matatag Community Pantry told Teleradyo.
(They can't even give proper support to the people, now they want to make it harder for those who want to help. Why do we have to ask for permit? Many wants to help and they want to regulate it?)
Interior Undersecretary Martin Diño said Tuesday organizers of community pantries would have to apply for a permit from local authorities to ensure health protocols were being followed amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Reports from other media outlets claimed Dino has since rescinded his permit statement.
Docena, who teaches sociology at the University of the Philippines Diliman, also criticized law enforcers for linking their efforts to the communist movement.
"Napakalaking kalokohan po no'ng charge na komunista 'yong mga nagtatayo nitong community pantry. Hindi po totoo 'yan. Mga ordinaryong mamamayan lang po kami na concerned dahil nakikita namin na sobrang palpak nitong gobyerno natin," he said.
(That claim that organizers of community pantry are communists is nonsense. That's not true. We are ordinary citizens who are only concerned because of the government's failure [in responding to the pandemic].)
The Maginhawa Community Pantry in Quezon City on Tuesday halted its operations due to red-tagging. The National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict shared several posts on Facebook accusing community pantries of propaganda.
For Docena, a community pantry is an emergency relief to respond to hunger and unemployment brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic.
"Stopgap lang ito. Hindi siya puwedeng long-term solution. Kailangan po ng maayos na gobyerno, responsableng gobyerno, gobyernong may malasakit. 'Yan ang long-term solution dito," he said.
(This is only a stopgap. This is not a long-term solution. We need a proper, responsible and caring government. That's the long-term solution.)