Leftist groups can put up own community pantries - DILG

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Apr 21 2021 09:30 AM | Updated as of Apr 21 2021 09:58 AM

People line up at a community pantry facilitated by tricycle drivers at their terminal along Maharlika Street in Quezon City on April 20, 2021. Mark Demayo, ABS-CBN News

MANILA - Left-leaning groups such as Bayan Muna can put up their own community pantry, a Department of the Interior and Local Government official said Wednesday, as part of efforts to help those affected by the pandemic.

Speaking to ANC, Interior Undersecretary Jonathan Malaya urged them however not to politicize charitable activities.

"Anyone can set up a community pantry. In fact, if Bayan, Bayan Muna or any of these left-wing groups would like to conduct their own community pantries, there would be no problem," he said.

"Whatever they say during those community pantries, if they put on signs, are part of protected speech. We are a democratic society and people can say whatever they want.

"However, we in the DILG (Department of the Interior and Local Government) would rather that people do not include politics in the community pantry. If the intention of Bayan Muna or all of these left-leaning groups is to help, just help," he added.

Giving political color to community pantries may reduce it to a propaganda action, Malaya said.

"We in the DILG... appeal to the public and to the organizers of community pantry to keep this initiative politically zero so that we do not further complicate," he said.

"We are already in a disaster and then we are ascribing politics to what should be selfless acts of kindness."

In response to hunger and unemployment brought about the raging health crisis, community pantries are sprouting across the Philippines. 

The initiative was started by 26-year-old Patricia Non in Maginhawa Street in Quezon City who was dismayed by the government's response to the pandemic.

In the interview, Malaya also clarified the DILG did not order profiling and surveillance activities to organizers of community pantry.

"In fact, we support the existence of these pantries. We offered the help of the Philippine National Police and barangays if needed so these community pantries may operate freely," he said.

The Maginhawa Community Pantry on Tuesday halted its operation following posts of law enforcers linking the activity to the communist movement. It reopened Wednesday to continue to help those in need.

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