Government failures spawn ‘community pantry’ movement

Posted April 23, 2021

A truly amazing development very recently occurred in our country, an initiative taken by a young lady, Ann Patricia Non, a resident of Quezon City. She started a modest undertaking to help the needy amidst the current COVID-19 pandemic by providing, at her own personal expense, food arrayed in the sidewalk for those who need them to come and pick up food to alleviate their family’s hunger—for free.

This kind gesture to help those who are hungry attracted immediate attention as well as admiration, such that it persuaded many donors to increase the food on offer and even resulted in this great idea to be replicated in many other communities all over the Philippines.

But horror of horror, the reaction of the government was unexpected. Instead of recognizing the initiative as noble, charitable, and meritorious, the government questioned the objective of the proponent, Ms. Non.

This charitable and open-handed activity was considered as an attempt to discredit the government because of its own inadequate action to alleviate the devastating effects of the pandemic. Ms. Non, who was tagged as a communist or a communist sympathizer, promptly denied this accusation, saying that what she is doing is selfless endeavor—and not a crime.

If the government wants to redeem itself, it should do something better than what Ms. Non is doing and not to stop these activities. But regrettably, the government does not want to admit its grievous failures and instead tried to cover these up by labelling this very worthy initiative as an action to destabilize the government, said Ben Punongbayan, Chairman and Founder of Buklod, a national political party.

This reaction questioning the objective of the proponent of the Community Pantry—which included requiring government permits for such activity—simply and justifiably boomeranged. The Community Pantry idea has since proliferated all over the country, not only for the reason that a large segment of the Filipino nation really needs assistance to alleviate their persistent hunger, but also as a response for to the uncalled-for action by the government.

The Community Pantry initiative taken by an ordinary citizen in Quezon City has attracted many food donors who sympathize with the plight of the numerous hungry Filipinos, more especially, producers of food products.  Unfortunately, these munificent gestures to help cannot be expected to be sustained for the expected long duration of the harmful effects of the pandemic.

Punongbayan pointed out that in the end it is only the government itself who can provide a sustainable remedy to the devastating effects of COVID-19. The government leaders must clearly recognize this reality and act accordingly.  And if they cannot, the present suffering of the Filipino people will persist for a long time. It is sad, indeed. And the present government leaders must accept responsibility for that tragedy.

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