Efforts that malign and harass community pantries are pure evil and bereft of humanity. This was the reaction of Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) after the suspension of operations of the Maginhawa Community Pantry — the inspiration of sprouting community pantries all over the country. The community pantry organized by artist and furniture maker Ana Patricia Non temporarily halted its operations today after their efforts were red-tagged by the NTF-ELCAC, the Quezon City Police, and DDS elements on Facebook and social media.
Hundreds of people came to the Maginhawa pantry early this morning in the hope of getting food, rice, and vegetable supplies from the pantry. The volunteers apologized and asked the people to go home.
Likewise, reports of profiling by PNP and intelligence agents on initiators of pantries were also reported yesterday. Several pantries were also accosted by barangay officials, saying that long queues in pantries lead to mass gatherings.
If the NTF-ELCAC don’t have anything good to say then they should just shut up in the corner. Wala na ngang naitutulong, namemerwisyo pa itong NTF-ELCAC. The DILG and PNP are trying to police and regulate these pantries using enforcement of health protocols and procurement of barangay permits as a pretext. Let’s do away with bureaucratic processes. Yan na rin ang problema sa napakabagal na pamimigay ng ayuda.
Among the pantries that were harassed include those at Maginhawa and Matatag St. in Quezon City, pantries in Pandacan in Manila, and Marikina City. There are over 100 pantries nationwide and communities in the provinces are replicating this effort.
KMP said the government must fast-track the distribution of cash aid to 22.9-million families. It is obvious that the P1,000 to P4,000 ayuda or cash aid are not enough. We demand 10,000 cash aid for poor families and P15,000 production subsidies for farmers and fishers. Congress must conduct a special session to discuss and approve proposed measures on the supplemental budget for cash aid and economic stimulus.
Land reform advocates and Tulong Anakpawis volunteers will continue organizing community pantries in Quezon City. Bulacan farmers will sell their produce and vegetables at farmgate prices to community pantries through the Bagsakan Online Farmers Market.
We must continue to support encourage community pantries as a form of collective action of the community to aid the neediest, the jobless, and those deprived of livelihood and any means. ##