The Department of the Interior and Local Government said that community pantry organizers should coordinate with barangay, LGU, and PNP officials to ensure that health and safety protocols are observed in the distribution of aid to those in need.
DILG Secretary Eduardo Año said that they are alarmed by an incident that happened in Barangay Holy Spirit, Quezon City and that the organizers should have coordinated with the barangay, Quezon City Government, and the PNP so that there would be crowd control and no mass gathering will be held.
“It's the organizer's responsibility to impose the minimum health standards. That's the primary reason why they have to coordinate with the LGUs local government units so that the latter can provide assistance,” he said.
He added that the barangay, LGUs, and PNP are ready to provide assistance at all times.
He made the statement after a long queue of people along Commonwealth Avenue was generated by the community pantry organized by actress Angel Locsin for her 36th birthday in Barangay Holy Spirit, Quezon City. Reports said an elderly man who was among those who lined up to get food and other essential items at the community pantry lost his consciousness and later died at a hospital.
“Since somebody died, the PNP has to conduct an investigation. We cannot ascertain yet who could be liable until the completion of the investigation,” he said.
The DILG Secretary said that the department supports and encourages the community pantries in the country. “The community pantry has been a traditional practice in our country as part of Bayanihan culture and spirit specially in the times of calamities and disasters. Iba iba lang ang pangalan. In the spirit of Bayanihan, many Filipinos have been doing selfless acts of kindness since last year,” he said.
Nonetheless, he said that the organizers must adhere to existing laws and local ordinances especially those issued to prevent the spread of Covid-19.
“The PNP 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. The LGUs, barangays and the PNP are ready to provide utmost assistance to ensure orderly distribution to the public,” he said.