DILG: No epal politicians in pantries

MANILA (AdChoiceTV News) — The government yesterday issued a stern warning against politicians who might take advantage of the Bayanihan-inspired community pantries, which are now subject to new guidelines to avoid becoming “super-spreader” activities.

Interior and Local Government Secretary Eduardo Año warned that “epal” or opportunistic politicians will not be allowed to put up tarpaulins promoting themselves at community pantries that have sprouted throughout the country.

“We won’t tolerate any ‘epal’ or those displaying any signage, billboards, posters bearing pictures, pangalan, initials or images… especially of politicians who promote themselves at community pantries,” he said in Filipino.

While reiterating that community pantries need no permit from local government units (LGU), Año said his department has released guidelines for their operation to avoid a possible surge in COVID-19 transmissions.

Taking cue from President Duterte, presidential spokesman Harry Roque Jr. discouraged the conduct of “super-spreader” activities that might trigger another surge of COVID-19 cases in the country.

Along the same line, the DILG mandated that all community pantries will need to be properly coordinated with LGUs to ensure that basic health protocols are being followed.

He noted that any violation of health protocols may merit the closure of the community pantry.

“This could be a reason to shut down a community pantry… because it could lead to a surge or spike (in COVID-19 cases),” said the DILG chief.null

Año stressed that no permits or fees shall be imposed so as not to burden organizers of community pantries who have replicated the Bayanihan spirit initiated by Ana Patricia Non in her community pantry on Maginhawa Street in Quezon City.

Still, the DILG insists on the need for coordination to avoid violations or unfortunate incidents such as what happened recently at the community pantry organized by actress Angel Locsin.

The provision of alcohol, cigarettes and other harmful items shall not be allowed in any community pantry, the DILG said.

Also, the DILG said the venue of community pantries should be authorized by the LGU, whether in the local community or barangay.

Citing the pantries as a localized initiative, Año explained that the location should allow members of the same community to benefit and not be mobbed by people from far-flung areas.

If available, a system should be in place for local community pantries to reach senior citizens or persons with comorbidities without them having to leave their homes, he added.

The DILG also encouraged LGUs to help link community pantry organizers to possible local producers or suppliers.

Reacting to the warnings contained in the DILG guidelines, Sen. Leila de Lima said the Duterte administration should “assume a friendly approach” to community pantries.

De Lima said that instead of suggesting the halt of the operations of community pantries if they violate any of the guidelines, the DILG should instead encourage and help in ensuring the enforcement of health protocols.

“If this administration no longer has the capability or interest to give additional aid to our countrymen, the least they can do is help make the community pantries safe for everyone. The threat to community pantries is a direct attack on the people’s growling stomach,” she said.

De Lima maintained that the government should work with community pantries instead of being an obstacle to their mission.

Article by Philstar via Albert Rovic Tan / AdChoiceTV News

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