MANILA - (UPDATED) Organizers of community pantries nationwide must apply for a permit from local authorities, a Department of the Interior and Local Government official said Tuesday.
This is to ensure health protocols such as physical distancing would be enforced, said Martin Diño, DILG undersecretary for Barangay Affairs.
"I think now they need a permit from the mayor or the barangay," he told ANC's Headstart.
"Nung time na may disaster wala pa tayong pandemic, COVID at pwede pumila at magpalitan ng mukha ang ating beneficiaries. Ngayon meron tayong protocol na sinusunod, social distancing. Kaya lahat ng nagdodonate ngayon kino-course through natin sa proper authority."
(During disasters pre-pandemic, beneficiaries can line up and not observe physical distancing. Now we follow protocols, which is why donations are coursed through proper authorities.)
In a separate statement, Interior Secretary Eduardo Año said organizers must observe existing laws and local ordinances such as COVID-19 protocols, Año said.
"As to the issue of whether organizers are required to secure barangay permits, organizers should consult with the concerned barangays if such is required," he said.
Local officials and the PNP are "ready to provide utmost assistance to ensure orderly distribution to the public," he added.
When asked on the red-tagging of community pantry organizers, Diño meanwhile said local authorities might be concerned with violation of health protocols.
"Ang first concern, lalo ng barangay, pwedeng makasuhan si kapitan kapag nagkaroon ng mass gathering," he said.
(The first concern, especially of the barangay, is the chairman can face charges if there's a mass gathering.)
"Siguro ang pinakamagandang gawin dyan coordinate with your barangay para may nagbabantay doon sa pantry niyo, para merong titingin kung nasusunod ang protocol on the social distancing. Maganda yan kaya lang wag sana maging simula ng pagkahawa-hawa."
(Maybe the best thing they can do is coordinate with the barangay so someone can guard the pantry and if social distancing is observed. It has a good intention but let's hope it won't be the start of virus transmission.)
The Maginhawa community pantry in Quezon City has temporarily halted its operations following red-baiting posts shared by the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC and the QC Police District.
Its organizer Ana Patricia Non said 3 policemen have asked for her contact number and to which organization she belonged.
Quezon City Mayor Joy Belmonte said she has asked the QCPD to investigate and submit a report on the matter.
The local government has helped Non in ensuring physical distancing in the community pantry, she added.
Non said some community pantries have encountered problems with the police on Monday.
"Mabigat sa pakirandam ko kasi maganda po ang intentions ko noong binuo ko ang #CommunityPantry at ilang araw na din po na napakaraming pinagsisilbihan nito at ganun din po ang tulong na dumadating," she said.
(It saddens me because my intentions are good when I created the #CommunityPantry and it has served many people.)
"Sigurado po maraming tao po ang pipila sa amin bukas pero kailangan po muna nila maghintay sa susunod na araw bago po ito maipamahagi. Lalo na po at nagkaproblema kanina ang ibang Community Pantry sa mga kapulisan."
(For sure, there will be a long line tomorrow but they would need to wait before we distribute our goods, after community pantries earlier encountered problems with the police.)