The P16 billion budget of the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) could have easily covered millions of pandemic-affected Filipinos, according to Fei Cayabyab, organizer of a community pantry in Makati City.
Cayabyab, a 22-year-old musician, made her point as she appealed to authorities to stop red-tagging organizers of community pantries.
“Instead of threatening and harassing the community pantries established by normal citizens in different regions, the NTF-ELCAC budget of P16 billion could have easily covered millions of beneficiaries if allocated through one-time cash assistance of P10,000,” she said in her Facebook post on Tuesday (April 20).
“Itigil ninyo ang red-tagging sa #CommunityPantryPH kung hindi niyo naman kayang maibigay ang nasasapat na ayuda para sa mga mamamayan (Stop red-tagging community pantries if you cannot even provide adequate assistance to Filipinos).”
Cayabyab said that their only intention is to help ordinary people badly affected by the pandemic.
For her case, the community pantry they opened on Milkweed Street in Baragay Rizal, Makati is very near urban poor communities.
“Hundreds of people go to our pantry in a day. Here in our barangay, there are two other community pantries,” she said.
She said that a lot of well-meaning people have donated goods for those who cannot put food on their plates due to the economic impact of the pandemic.
“Some of those who get food from our pantry give us P20 because that’s all they have for food. They voluntarily give money, the amount they can,” she said when asked if her supplies of goods ever ran out.
“Also, many people donated, that’s why we have many goods for the people,” she added.
Cayabyab was inspired by the community pantry opened by Ana Patricia Non on Maginhawa Street in Quezon City.
However, Non had to shut down the pantry due to red-tagging by authorities.
The initiative of Non has inspired others to open their own community pantries in their respective areas to help people financially affected by the pandemic.