Red-tagging community pantries is a waste of time and resources, Vice President Leni Robredo said on Sunday, April 25, as she criticized some government officials for being “irresponsible” in putting malice in these activities.
“Iyong sa akin, napaka misplaced, napaka irresponsible iyong ginagawa ng ibang mga opisyal ng pamahalaan. Sa panahon na gaya nito, iyan ang iniisip nila. Sana hindi ma-discourage iyong mga nagtayo ng community pantries (For me, what some government officials is doing is very misplaced, very irresponsible. At a time like this, that’s what they’re thinking. I hope the organizers of the community pantries will not be discouraged),” she said during her weekly radio show.
The government instead should be very thankful to Ana Patricia Non, the proponent of the community pantry in Maginhawa Street, Quezon City, which started the wave of similar pantries across the nation.
“May lugar at panahon para sa lahat. ‘Di ba dapat nga gayahin na lang nila kaysa nag-aaksaya sila ng panahon na maghanap ng diperensya? (There is a place and time for everything. Shouldn’t they be replicating instead of wasting time to look for a problem?),” Robredo stressed.
National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) spokesperson Lt. Gen. Antonio Parlade Jr. and Presidential Communications Undersecretary Lorraine Marie Badoy have both red-tagged community pantry organizers.
Badoy told donors to ask where their money is going and hinted that the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) is taking advantage of the activities.
Parlade is in similar hot water as the NTF-ELCAC on several occasions reposted on Facebook claims by some groups and individuals that the community pantries are organized by communist groups.
Parlade said some netizens are alerting them that the community pantries have placards criticizing the government. He added that they want to check on these.
But Robredo balked at the assumptions that the organizers of the community pantries have links to the CPP.
“Ngayon na maraming nagugutom, maraming nawalan ng hanapbuhay, malaki iyong pangangailangan, dapat nga kapag may mga ganitong activities ay sinusuportahan (Now that there’s a lot of people getting hungry, many lost their livelihoods, they are in great need, when there are activities like these, we should support them),” she said.
The fact that these organizers and donors see the need to help each other should be celebrated, the vice president insisted, adding that these are inspiring to a lot of Filipinos.
Since Non started the community pantry in Quezon City, similar ones have sprouted all over the country, to as far as Zamboanga province. In Metro Manila, there are over 80 community pantries while more than 300 others are across the country.
The pantry has a give-what-you-can, take-what-you-need approach that sees a taho vendor providing free cups of taho (silken tofu with syrup and tapioca pearls) to one community pantry.
“I think ito ‘yung pinaka-value, ito ‘yung pinaka-value ng community pantry na parang napukaw ‘yung kabutihan, ‘yung compassion sa puso ng maraming Pilipino. Ito ‘yung mahalaga (I think this is the value of the community pantry that it aroused the goodness in the hearts of many Filipinos. This is what’s important),” Robredo said.
Robredo added she will continue being grateful to Non and everyone she inspired.