MANILA – Malacañang on Tuesday clarified that there is no order from President Rodrigo Duterte to stop the setting up of community pantries amid the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic.
In an online press briefing, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said Duterte is merely worried that makeshift food pantries could be “super spreader” venues for the coronavirus infections.
“Hindi naman po sinasabi ni Presidente na itigil ang community pantry. Ang worry lang po niya, eh ‘yung mga nababalita na nga po na nagiging super spreader po itong mga community pantry (The President is not saying the establishment of community pantry should be stopped. He merely expressed worry over reports that community pantries become super spreader venues for Covid-19),” Roque said.
In a public address delivered Monday night, Duterte told the public that it is safer to wait for government assistance from their homes instead of going out to avail of free food items.
Duterte also scolded “hard-headed” Filipinos who seem not to be afraid of Covid-19.
Despite the strict implementation of quarantine protocols, many Filipinos continue to flock to several community pantries.
Some have expressed objection to the initiative to offer free food and other necessities because physical distancing and the proper wearing of face masks and face shields are not being followed.
Roque reminded pantry organizers to coordinate with local government officials to ensure the proper observance of minimum health public standards.
“Ang pakiusap lang po natin eh makipag-ugnayan po sa lokal na pamahalaan at siguraduhin na may social distancing at tumutupad sa iba pang mga minimum health standard ang mga community pantry (Our only appeal is for community pantry organizers to coordinate with local governments and make sure that social distancing and other minimum health standards are being followed),” he said.
On April 28, Duterte proposed the implementation of a scheduling system to facilitate orderly operations of community pantries amid the prevailing Covid-19 pandemic.
In line with Duterte’s directive, the Department of the Interior and Local Government has crafted guidelines on the operations of community pantries to avoid the possible spike in Covid-19 cases in the country. (PNA)