President Rodrigo Duterte praised on Tuesday Filipinos who have organized community pantries across the country, as they are helping those affected by the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic, Malacañang said Tuesday.
In a virtual press briefing, Presidential Spokesperson Roque said Duterte welcomes all initiatives to help Filipinos severely affected by the pandemic.
“We have spoken as the President’s mouthpiece, the Secretary of DILG (Department of Interior and Local Government) has spoken. We welcome community pantries,” he said partly in Filipino.
He reiterated that community pantries exemplify the best of the Filipino character in times of challenges.
“On the side of the President and the DILG, we are encouraging and praising citizens joining the work of community pantries,” he said in Filipino. “Our President really praises this initiatve.”
However, some community pantries set up by private individuals temporarily stopped operations after the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) made social media posts linking them to communist rebels.
Roque said Duterte wants NTF-ELCAC officials to refrain from impeding efforts of volunteers establishing and operating community pantries.
“I think the President has spoken through my office. The [DILG] has spoken. Unless their concern is about health protocols being observed, they should leave these community pantries alone,” he said.
He noted that DILG Secretary Eduardo Año himself ordered police and local government officials not to interfere with operations of community pantries.
In a statement, Año said police and LGU interference should only be limited to ensuring that minimum health protocols are observed.
He also denied allegations that his agency ordered police to look into community pantries across the country.
NTF-ELCAC spokesperson Lt. Gen. Antonio Parlade Jr. earlier denied red-tagging community pantry organizers but admitted that they are checking their backgrounds.Parlade, however, expressed concern over how organizers of community pantries seem to be spreading “propaganda” about the government’s failure to address people’s needs. SOVEREIGNPH