MANILA, Philippines – Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) Secretary Eduardo Año on Tuesday said that police and local government executives should not interfere with community pantries and other similar initiatives organized by private groups.
Año issued the statement following reports that some of the community pantry organizers were being red-tagged and profiled by alleged government authorities.
The DILG chief said police and local government interference should only be limited to ensuring that health protocols are being implemented.
“Since this is a purely voluntary and private initiative, we should not interfere except to ensure that minimum health standards are complied with,” Año said.
“Hence, organizers must adhere to existing laws and local ordinances especially those issued to prevent the spread of Covid-19,” he added.
Año also clarified that he did not order the Philippine National Police (PNP) to look into the community pantries around the country.
“The community pantry has been a traditional practice in our country as part of Bayanihan culture and spirit specially in the times of calamities and disasters,” he said.
“In the spirit of Bayanihan, many Filipinos have been doing selfless acts of kindness since last year.
As long as the intention is good and without political color, it should be encouraged and supported,” he added.
As to the issue of whether organizers are required to secure barangay permits, the DILG chief said that organizers should “consult with the concerned barangays if such is required.”
“The PNP and/or local officials may just come in if there is any violation of law, if there are complaints from the community, or if the organizers seek their help,” he said.
“The LGUs, barangays and the PNP are ready to provide utmost assistance to ensure orderly distribution to the public,” he added.