NTF adviser suggests roving community pantry


Posted at Apr 26 2021 10:34 PM

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The adviser of the National Task Force Against COVID-19 who drew flak over a tweet on the death of a man waiting for aid at a community pantry, on Monday urged organizers of the charity hubs to deliver aid house to house.

Barangay officials delivered aid door-to-door during the start of the quarantine last year, and can help community pantry organizers do the same instead of staying at fixed venues that could draw crowds, said Dr. Teodoro Herbosa.

"Puwede kang magpaikot ng isang sasakyan o kariton. At kung gusto mong tumulong, maglagay ka ng bagay doon. At kung gusto mong kumuha, kummuha ka nang kaunti," he said in a televised public briefing. 

"‘Wag nating papuntahin ang marami sa isang lugar, kasi po hindi tayo mawawala dito sa pandemya." 

(You can have a car or cart go around. Those who want to help can put things there, and those who want to get aid can get some. Let us not have too many people go to one place because we cannot escape the pandemic that way.)

Mass gatherings at community pantries can lead to super spreader events, said Herbosa, a former Health undersecretary. 

Herbosa recently resigned as executive vice president of the University of the Philippines, following backlash over his tweet on the death of an elderly man who waited in line at a community pantry organized by actress Angel Locsin.

"Death by 'community pantry'. I told you so!" Herbosa said on Twitter. 

While he has apologized for the comment, Herbosa criticized colleagues in UP who opposed his controversial tweet.

"Hindi man lang ako tinawagan o tinanong bakit ko ini-tweet ‘yon. Nasaktan ako," he said. 

(They did not even call me or ask why I tweeted that. I was hurt.)

He said he was also hurt by comments from anonymous, freshly created accounts. 

"Ako ay nagsa-suggest lang ng sistema, pero nilagyan nila ng kulay na pulitika... Mukhang may troll army," said Herbosa. 

(I was just suggesting a system, but it was tainted with political color... There seems to be a troll army.)

On his Facebook account last Friday, Herbosa wrote, "I sincerely apologize for my tweet earlier today, tagging as 'death by community pantry' news of a senior citizen's death at a community pantry of a celebrity. It may have sounded like a criticism but was ill-judged, when many are facing hardships & being helped by these kind hearted souls."

"I felt angry over a preventable death, & ended up issuing the tweet when I could have expressed it in a better way."

In accepting Herbosa's resignation, UP President Danilo Concepcion said “it is imperative that there be consistency and harmony in our relationship as administrators, as well as in our public pronouncements, given that we both represent the larger University community, its spirit, and its interests.”

Despite resigning as UP executive vice president, Herbosa said he would keep his post as tenured faculty member at the state university and continue to serve as NTF adviser.