MANILA—The Department of the Interior and Local Government on Wednesday announced guidelines for civilian community pantries that have sprouted nationwide.
Interior Secretary Eduardo Año said his department's standards on community pantries will ensure compliance with health and safety protocols, and peace and order amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
"Itong community pantry ay isa sa pwede maging dahilan . . . Na pwedeng dito magsimula ang surge or spike kapag 'di nasunod ang minimum health standards. Kaya kailangan ay mayroong standards na sinusunod . . . Both ang organizer at ang beneficiaries, at ang mga nagpapatupad ng ating mga batas," Año said in a public briefing.
(These community pantries can cause a surge in COVID-19 cases if minimum health standards at not followed. There must be standards for organizers, beneficiaries, and law enforcers.)
Año reiterated organizers do not need a permit from local government units to set up community pantries.
"Ito'y magiging parang additional burden kung sino man 'yung magsasagawa ng community pantry," he said.
(This is an added burden to community pantry organizers.)
Martin Diño, DILG Undersecretary for barangay affairs, earlier said pantries must have LGU approval, but then backtracked.
Organizers and LGUs were also advised to observe the following:
- Wear face masks and face shields, observe physical distancing and other basic health protocols
- Do not give out illegal items, alcohol, or cigarettes
- Do not charge fees to beneficiaries
- Organizers and LGUs must closely coordinate
- Rights of all participants must be respected and protected
Año said community pantries must implement the "Anti-Epal policy," that government officials and other individuals are prohibited to use such social activity for personal, political or propaganda purposes.
"Hindi po natin papayagan na magkakaroon ng epal o . . . Maglalagay ng anumang signage, billboards, posters bearing pictures, pangalan, o images ng mga tao na nagsasagawa ng community pantry, lalo na po ang mga politicians na gusto pumapel dito sa community pantry," he said.
(We don't allow organizers or politicians to present themselves in community pantries by setting up signages, billboards, posters bearing their face and names.)
Quezon City earlier issued local guidelines on community pantries after the death of a senior citizen who lined up for one organized by actress Angel Locsin that drew a massive crowd.
Community pantries have resonated with a public weary that pandemic aid has been insufficient, particularly for the poor.
They have also been under imprudent scrutiny after Lt. Gen. Antonio Parlade Jr., the Philippines' anti-communist task force spokesperson, compared Ana Patricia Non, organizer of the first community pantry in Quezon City, to Satan.
Senators have adopted a committee report calling for Parlade's removal as spokesman of the task force due to his long history of false remarks and erroneous red-tagging.