DILG says community pantries reflect 'bayanihan' as red-tagging fears grow

The Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) asserted on Monday, April 19, that it sees community pantries organically emerging across parts of the Philippines as a “reflection of the bayanihan spirit”, but stopped short of categorically rejecting efforts by some individuals to subject the initiative to redbaiting.

On Monday, social media users were alarmed by posts which claimed without evidence that “communists” or “idiotic propagandists” were behind community pantries.  

But in a statement to Rappler, Interior Undersecretary Jonathan Malaya said community pantries highlight the spirit of cooperation among Filipinos.

“The DILG sees the community pantry as a reflection of the bayanihan spirit where people who have more share their blessings and those who are in need only get what they need,” Malaya said, when asked to comment on the red-tagging of community pantries.

“Our inherent goodness as Filipinos has emerged and it is this love of community and country that will carry us through,” he added.

Asked for clarification on whether the agency rejects efforts by some individuals to link community pantries with the communist movement or opposition propaganda, Malaya declined to give a categorical answer.

“Our statement speaks for itself. [A reflection of the bayanihan spirit] is how we see the community pantry,” Malaya said.

Patreng Non, the first person to start a makeshift pantry in Maginhawa, Quezon City on April 14, said she launched the project due to the government’s mishandling of the pandemic.

“Pagod na ako sa inaction (I’m tired of inaction),” she told Rappler on April 17.

Malacañang on April 19 refused to see the rise of community pantries as indication of the government’s failure to provide the public with sufficient supplemental aid to get through the pandemic.

Presidential Spokesman Harry Roque however admitted that distribution of supplemental aid available is slow due to the nature of the pandemic and health protocols. – Rappler.com