MANILA - Finding fault in organizers of community pantries and linking them to the communist movement are misplaced and irresponsible, especially during this pandemic, Vice President Leni Robredo said on Sunday.
“Napaka-misplaced. Instead na maging thankful na merong isang bata pa na nakaisip ng napakahusay na activity, hinahanapan pa ng diperensiya,” Robredo said in her weekly radio program.
“Napaka-misplaced, napaka-irresponsible yung ginagawa ng ibang mga opsiyal ng pamahalaan, na sa pahanong gaya nito, eh ‘yan ang iniisp nila,” she added.
(It’s so misplaced. Instead of being thankful that someone so young was able to think of this very impressive activity, they are looking for issues… It’s so misplaced and irresponsible for these officials to think that way in times like this.)
Ana Patricia Non, who started the Maginhawa Community Pantry in Quezon City over a week ago to offer free food to people in need, said she was red-tagged by some officials and was allegedly being profiled by some policemen. It prompted her to close her pantry for a day last week as she feared for her safety.
After getting support from other officials for her “Bayanihan” initiative, Non resumed her pantry, which has already been replicated in many parts of the country.
Lt. Gen. Antonio Parlade, Jr. and Communications Undersecretary Lorraine Badoy have been criticized for linking Non's pantry to the communist movement, with some senators proposing to defund the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict, for whom they serve as spokespersons.
On Sunday, Sec. Hermogenes Esperon, Jr., vice chair fo the NTF-ELCAC, said Parlade and Badoy have been instructed to desist from making statements on community pantries.
Esperon said the task force supports community pantries.
Parlade's role as spokesperson of the NTF-ELCAC is against the Constitution, said Senate Minority Leader Frank Drilon. His remark, calling senators as "stupid", is also unprecedented and uncalled for.
“May lugar at panahon para sa lahat. Ngayon na maraming nagugutom, maraming nawalan ng hanapbuhay, malaki yung pangangailanan, dapat nga, ‘pag may mga ganitong activities ay sinusuportahan. ‘Di ba dapat nga, gayahin na lang nila, kaysa nag-aaksya sila ng panahaon na maghanap ng diperensiya?” Robredo said.
(There’s a time and place for certain things. Now that many are hungry, many lost their jobs, many are in need, these activities should be supported. Shouldn’t they be replicated, instead of spending time finding fault in them?)
Robredo said beyond the immediate help the community pantries provide, the people’s “sense of community” was revived.
“May obligation, responsibility tayo para siguraduhin natin na ang mga kasamahan natin ay ‘di nagugutom; o maging mapagbigay, maging maalaga. Ito sana yung sine-celebrate,” she said.
(We have an obligation, a responsibility to ensure that our fellowmen do not go hungry; that we share and take care of others. This is what we should be celebrating.)
The vice president noted that despite the red-tagging, many were actually inspired to put up pantries in their respective communities to give help.
“Ito yung pinaka-value ng community pantry - na napukaw yung kabutihan, yung compassion, sa puso ng maraming mga Pilipino. And ito yung mahalaga,” she said.
(This is the ultimate value of the community pantry - it stirred kindness and compassion in the hearts of Filipinos. And this is the what's important.)