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’Lay off charitable community pantries’

Mike Defensor
ANAKALUSUGAN party-list Rep. Mike Defensor

ANAKALUSUGAN party-list Rep. Mike Defensor on Wednesday told “armchair bureaucrats” to lay off the charitable community pantries put up by well-meaning Filipinos to help other families put food on the table.

Defensor also rejected as “ridiculous” the proposal for barangays, cities and municipalities to require organizers of community pantries to obtain permits.

The pitch was made by an undersecretary of the Department of the Interior and Local Government in a TV interview.

“Sadly, we do have several officials who are so out of touch with the reality on the ground and have apparently become overly accustomed to the office culture,” Defensor said.

“We are supporting these community pantries because we want to save more households, especially those with children, from involuntary hunger, amid rising joblessness and soaring food prices,” Defensor, vice chairperson of the House committee on welfare of children, said.

“Despite and because of the COVID-19 crisis, millions of Filipinos are forced to go out every day to eke out a living and look for food that they can put on the table, and these community pantries have proven helpful,” Defensor said.

Defensor urged other local governments to follow the example set by Manila City Mayor Isko Moreno and Pasig City Mayor Vico Sotto, both of whom have forbidden barangay as well as police officials from interfering with the activities of community pantries.

Both mayors have also said that community pantries in their jurisdictions need not apply for permits.

Due to the pandemic, some 4.2 million Filipinos have lost their jobs while another 7.9 million have suffered pay cuts at work, according to the Philippine Statistics Authority.

The number of Filipino families experiencing involuntary hunger hit a record 21.1 percent for the whole of 2020, according to a survey conducted by the Social Weather Stations.