The Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) urged on Monday, April 26, community pantry organizers to think of ways for senior citizens to benefit from their service, citing the risk of having people 60 years above to endure long queues amid the threat of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19).
DILG Undersecretary Jonathan Malaya also suggested that community organizers may coordinate with the barangay officials to send food items to the senior citizens.
“Nakikiusap kami sa mga community pantry organizers na maghanap po tayo ng paraan para hindi na po natin kailangan papilahin yung matatanda ( in the community pantry), maghanap po tayo ng paraan gaya ng ipadaan na lang (aid) sa barangay para yung barangay na lang ang magbahay-bahay at ibigay na lang yung tulong through a safer and more effective way (We are appealing to community pantry organizers to find ways to avoid the elderly from lining up. Let us look for other options like coursing this through the barangays for them to conduct the house to house distribution and give the assistance through a safer and more effective way),’’ said Malaya.
Malaya’s appeal was made days after a senior citizen who queued at the community pantry in Quezon City organized by actress Angel Locsin collapsed and later died in the hospital.
Although a worthy undertaking, Malaya said huge crowds of all ages have been flocking community pantries which result in violations of physical distancing regulations just to get free essential goods.
Community pantries was started on Maginhawa Street in Quezon City during the implementation of stricter measures in Metro Manila and the adjacent provinces of Bulacan, Laguna, Cavite and Rizal amid complaints of lack of planning and direction on the part of government officials to help those who would be affected every time the government would implement lockdown measures.
Community pantries serve as the converging point between donors and poor people who need help amid the economic impact of the COVID-19. Hundreds of community pantries sprouted since then.
The DILG spokesperson said DILG Secretary Eduardo Año has issued two guidelines for organizers to follow: one is to coordinate with barangay officials and another is to ensure that those who will fall in line are residents of the community where the pantry is located.
“Mas maganda na ilimita natin (community pantry operation) sa ating mga kapitbahay, mga kasama sa kalsada at sa komunidad lang (It is better to limit the operations to our neighbors and fellow community members on the street), he added.
Malaya emphasized that the DILG recognizes community pantries as “private voluntary initiatives.’’ (Chito A. Chavez)