Año says DILG didn’t order PNP to check on organizers of community pantries
MANILA, Philippines — Interior Secretary Eduardo Año said Tuesday he has not ordered the Philippine National Police to look into the community pantries emerging nationwide.
Ana Patricia Non, the organizer of the Maginhawa community pantry which started the movement, said she would be stopping the operations amid red-tagging fears.
Some government pages have also accused community pantries of communist links without evidence.
“I have not ordered the PNP to look into the community pantries around the country. The community pantry has been a traditional practice in our country,” Año said.
The official said community pantries should be “encouraged and supported” and authorities could only intervene to ensure public health protocols are complied with.
“Organizers must adhere to existing laws and local ordinances especially those issued to prevent the spread of Covid-19,” he said.
“The PNP (Philippine National Police) and/or local officials may just come in if there is any violation of law, if there are complaints from the community, or if the organizers seek their help,” he added.
Año said organizers should consult with their respective barangays if permit from local authorities would be required.
Earlier, two of Año’s subordinates were earlier at odds on whether community pantries should apply for a permit from local authorities.
Interior undersecretary for Barangay Affairs Martin Diño told ABS CBN News Channel that a permission should be sought by community pantry organizers from local governments.
“Para sa akin, ang first concern, lalo na ng barangays, kasi pwedeng makasuhan si kapitan pagka, halimbawa, nagkaroon ng mass gathering. Kahit na sabihin mo na distribution ng pagkain yan, or yung pantry yan, oras na nagkadikit dikit yung mga tao para diyan, mananagot na,” he said.
(For me, the first concern especially in the barangay, the barangay chairman can be charged if, for example, mass gathering happened. Even if you say that it is a distribution of food, or that is a pantry, once people mingle together, someone will be held liable.)
But in an interview with Teleradyo moments after Diño’s statements, Interior undersecretary and spokesperson Jonathan Malaya said he did not see the need to require permits from local authorities.
“Wala kaming planong pang-himasukan ‘yan. Ang sabi namin sa mga barangay, huwag niyo i-require na kumuha ng permit. Hayaan niyo. Pag lumapit ‘yan at humingi ng tulong, dun kayo lalapit,” he said.
(We do not have any intention to delve into that. The barangay even do not require them to get a permit. Just leave it at that, if they come and ask for assistance that is where you step in.)
“As much as possible, this is a private initiative, hindi natin kailangan pang-himasukan [we don’t see the need to interfere with it],” he added.
Community pantries have sprouted in various neighborhoods nationwide to cater poor Filipinos struggling with the pandemic.
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