MANILA (AdChoiceTV News) — The Department of the Interior and Local Government wants community pantries to course their operations through the barangays to find ways to reach senior citizens in their homes, it said Sunday.
Speaking in an interview aired over Unang Hirit, Interior Spokesperson Jonathan Malaya suggested that pantry organizers turn over their aid to barangay who can take charge of the distribution.
This comes after a 67-year-old died after he fainted while waiting for his turn at a community pantry set up by actress Angel Locsin. Locsin has apologized for the incident and got in touch with the family shortly after the incident.
“We’re asking community pantry organizers, let’s look for a way to not force our senior citizens to line up. Let’s look for a way to let the barangay do house-to-house and give the aid through a safer and more effective way,” Malaya said in Filipino.
“If we invite people from other towns, then we’ll have problems there… It’s better if we’d limit the operations to our neighbors and community,” he also said, citing directives from Interior Secretary Eduardo Año.
Community pantries, where people can get or donate goods, have sprouted one after the other all over the country during the past week. Reports of harassment and intimidation from police personnel at some of the sites followed closely behind.
On Sunday, the Philippine National Police, an attached bureau under the DILG, also suggested that community pantry organizers do house-to-house operations instead for the safety of their patrons.
“It’s a good suggestion so people don’t leave their houses all at once,” Police Brig. Gen. Ronnie Olay, PNP spokerson, said in Filipino in an interview aired over dzBB Super Radyo.
Under the guidelines of the Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases, persons aged 17 below and senior citizens aged 65 and older are still required to stay at home under the community quarantine.
Earlier this weekend, all 17 mayors in the capital region through a resolution approved by the Metro Manila Council urged community pantry organizers to coordinate with their local governments first “in order to ensure the proper observance of COVID-19 protocols.”
“While the organizers of community pantries exemplify collective charity and concern for the plight of the underprivileged and are truly worthy of emulation, support, and praise, the primordial minimum public health standards under the prevailing community quarantine must remain paramount,” the resolution said.
“The sacrifices endured and gains accumulated during the ECQ and MECQ must not be put to waste by a disregard of the prohibition on mass gatherings, observance of social distancing, and the wearing of face masks and face shields.”
Reporting by Albert Rovic Tan / AdChoiceTV News