Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, April 28) – The Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) will prohibit the distribution of certain items in community pantries under new guidelines.
DILG Secretary Eduardo Año said while the agency will not require pantry organizers to secure permits, it will set some limits as to what they can and cannot do in handing out donations to the public.
“‘Yung ipinagbabawal natin ang mga bagay-bagay na ilegal katulad ng mga alcoholic beverages at cigarettes,” Año told a virtual briefing Wednesday. “Hindi ‘yan maganda sa kalusugan so hindi natin papayagang maisama yan dito sa community pantry.”
[Translation: We will ban illegal items like alcoholic beverages and cigarettes. Those are not good for one’s health, so we won’t allow them to be included in these community pantries.]
There were reports of a community pantry in Antipolo offering soju, an alcoholic drink from South Korea.
Interior officials also said the rules regarding the involvement of local government units (LGUs) and pantry organizers will be detailed in a memorandum to be issued this week.
The DILG will instruct LGUs to identify where community pantries should be set up to ensure these will be closer to residents in dire need of help. The pantries have sprouted nationwide within a number of days as people hoped to provide food and basic necessities to those struggling amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Meanwhile, Año warned community pantries unable to enforce social distancing and other minimum health protocols while handing out goods will be shut down.
“We will require the close coordination between the organizer and the LGU because I don’t think the organizer will be able to implement the health standards if people started to consolidate and converge,” he said.
“Ayaw na nating mauulit ‘yung nangyari na na-violate ang physical distancing tapos meron pang nasawi sapagkat mayroong senior na nagpunta doon [We don’t want a repeat of the incident where physical distancing was violated and a senior citizen died while lining up],” Año added, referring to last week’s incident involving the community pantry hosted by actress Angel Locsin.
Ahead of the DILG’s rules, Maginhawa community pantry founder Ana Patricia Non implemented major changes in their day-to-day operations and converted the space into a drop-off point for all donations, which they will then distribute to about 20 community pantries in nearby barangays.
Their goal is to broaden their reach while limiting crowds waiting to get free food.
The DILG on Wednesday also signed a joint memorandum circular with the Anti Red-Tape Authority banning LGUs from collecting additional illegal fees and taxes for the transport of goods. The policy is expected to facilitate the smoother delivery of donations to and from community pantries.