Robredo to community pantry critics: Will people line up if they have enough?
MANILA, Philippines — Vice President Leni Robredo fired back on critics of community pantries that have sprouted across the country, saying people will not endure staying in long lines for hours just to get food items if they have enough to eat.
According to the Vice President, people who are against community pantries may not realize that people who line up in community pantries are hungry as the strict quarantine has left them jobless.
“Ang laking tulong kasi nasisiguro natin na may makakain sila isang beses sa isang araw. Minamasama pa ito ng iba. Hindi natin maintindihan pero hindi nila narerealize na kaya tumatiyaga iyong ating mga kababayan na pumila kasing walang wala talaga,” Robredo said in her Sunday radio program over DZXL.
(It is a really big help because we can ensure that people have something to eat at least once a day. But other people are feeling bad about it. We cannot understand why but they don’t realize that the reason why people are enduring lines because they have nothing to eat.)
“Kasi kung mayroon naman, bakit ka naman tiyatiyaga. Pero marami na ang paminsan ilang oras pa, ilang oras pa iyong ginugugol para may makuhang kaunti. Ang laking bagay na mayroong ganitong nakaisip,” she added.
(If they have something, why would they fall in line? But there are a lot of people who would line up for hours, spending time to get something. It’s already a big thing that somebody thought of this.)
Robredo added that the red-tagging of community pantry organizers is “misplaced” as the concern now should be the lack of assistance for poor families who are badly hit by the economy’s slump.
“Parang napaka-misplaced. Napaka-misplaced na instead na maging thankful na mayroong isang bata pa na nakaisip ng napakahusay na activity, hinahanapan pa ng diperensya,” she noted.
(It seems so misplaced. It’s so misplaced that instead of being thankful that someone was able to think of a good activity, they are finding fault from it.)
“May lugar at panahon para sa lahat. Ngayon na maraming nagugutom, maraming nawalan ng hanapbuhay, malaki iyong pangangailangan, dapat nga kapag may mga ganitong activities ay sinusuportahan […] nakikita naman natin, ang laking tulong nito para sa community,” she explained.
(There is a time and place for everything. Now that a lot are hungry, that several have lost their jobs, and people have different needs, these kinds of activities should be supported instead, we have seen how big of a help it is for the community.)
Community pantries sprouted in Metro Manila and in the nearby provinces of Bulacan, Cavite, Laguna, and Rizal were placed under an enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) and later under a modified ECQ (MECQ) due to rising COVID-19 cases. Other community pantries in other provinces soon appeared.
The operation of community pantries however was disrupted after the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) linked the pantries to propaganda by communist groups.
Pantry organizers also complained of alleged profiling by law enforcers.
Community pantries also face strict enforcement of quarantine regulations, as authorities noted crowding and in pantry sites in violation of physical distancing rules.
The Metro Manila Council (MMC) earlier issued a resolution “strongly urging” community pantry organizers to coordinate their activities first with local government units (LGUs), to ensure that health protocols set up against COVID-19 are enforced and observed.
The resolution was released just a day after the Department of Interior and Local Government asked community pantry organizers to coordinate with the LGUs and the local Philippine National Police (PNP) for crowd control and the enforcement of health protocols.
Robredo meanwhile urged critics of community pantries to divert their energies somewhere else instead.
“Iyong mga nag-iisip ng masama, huwag naman sana. Maghanap na lang sila ng ibang mapapagbuntunan ng kanilang mga gawain. Pero huwag naman, huwag naman iyong ganito. Huwag iyong ganito na nakakatulong na nga, pinapahirapan pa,” she noted.
(Those who are thinking ill about it, please don’t. Please find other outlets for the things you do. Please, do not do this, do not make it difficult for an initiative that has been of big help.)
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