Community pantries need to secure a permit from their host local government unit, an interior official said Tuesday, as more people across the country set up similar outposts for free food and essentials during the pandemic.
Permits are needed to ensure that COVID-19 protocols are followed in the operations of the community pantries, said Department of Interior and Local Government Usec. for Barangay Affairs Martin Diño.
"I think now they need a permit from the local, the mayor, or the barangay," Diño said in an interview with ANC, referencing donation drives that also need permits.
“Yun lang naman ang iniingatan natin, huwag ma-violate yung protocol dahil instead na nagbibigay ka ng pagkain, baka mamaya, iyan pa ang mag-trigger para magkahawa-hawa. Ang ganda ng intensyon pero yung end result, ang iniiwasan natin yung magkaroon ng violation sa social distancing,” he added.
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Citing the case of the first community pantry in Maginhawa, Quezon City, Diño said he was worried that barangay chairmen could be held accountable if physical distancing and other COVID-19 protocols are violated.
"Kahit na sabihin mo na distribution ng pagkin yan, or yung pantry yan, oras na nagkadikit-dikit yung mga tao para diyan, mananagot na,” Diño said.
The Maginhawa community pantry, organized by Patricia Non, inspired others to set up similar outposts in different areas where people are asked to give what they can and take what is enough for them. It paused operations on Tuesday citing red-tagging of organizers.
While he did not address the red-tagging issue, Diño advised organizers of community pantries to coordinate the initiative with local officials to help them enforce COVID-19 protocols.
“Siguro ang pinakamagandang gawin diyan coordinate with the barangay para may nagbabantay doon sa pantry niyo, para may nagtitingin kung nasusunod yung protocol on the social distancing," he said.
"Yun lang naman ang ano natin, huwag lang maging simula ng pagkahawa-hawa. Coordinate with your barangay captain, maganda yan para magtatalaga si kapitan ng mga tanod,” he added.