MANILA - Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph Recto on Tuesday said there is no law in the Philippines requiring the issuance of permits for community pantries.
Community pantries or shelves with free food for those in need have been sprouting all over the country as many Filipinos continue to suffer during the COVID-19 pandemic.
"Under the law, community pantries (CP) require no state franchise, nor government permit, nor police clearance," Recto said in a statement.
"The CP is no monopoly of any group. It is not a patented venture. An individual or group can start their own. It is open to all colors in our political rainbow," he said.
Recto's statement comes after Interior Undersecretary Martin Diño said that community pantry organizers need to secure permits from barangays or local governments to ensure that health protocols against the spread of COVID-19 are being followed.
Diño later on retracted the statement.
On his social media accounts, Pasig City Mayor Vico Sotto affirmed that a permit is not needed in setting up a community pantry.
"Wala po tayong 'Permit to Help'," Sotto said, adding, "We commend the individuals who are helping as they can afford."
"Government has limited resources, so any effort to help others is very welcome," he added.
Manila City Mayor Francisco "Isko Moreno" Domagoso also gave the same assurance, saying "Good deeds need no permit."
"Maglatag na kayo kahit saang kanto o barangay sa Maynila. We won’t require permits," he said.
(You can set up in any corner or barangay in Manila.)
Recto hit the social media posts of the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict's (NTF-ELCAC) that red-tagged community pantry organizers.
"The police should, in fact, commend the organizers instead of censuring them," Recto said.
"The only thing red in the community pantries are the ripe tomatoes."
"Those who see red in these bayanihan projects should have their hearts examined," he said.
The Quezon City Police District apologized for its "inadvertent post" that it said originated from the Facebook page of Peace Philippines, about the organizer of the Maginhawa community pantry in Quezon City.