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A delivery rider reads the message of the person who sent donations of goods to Ana Patricia Non (right), the woman behind the community pantry ON Maginhawa Street, Diliman, Quezon City on Friday (April 16, 2021). Non thanked those people who extend support from different places either personally or through delivery shipping. (PNA photo by Robert Oswald P. Alfiler)

Community pantry – spark of hope

The surprising emergence of Community Pantries – Give what you can, Take what you need – truly restores faith in humanity.

The novel concept that is sweeping the metropolis has no profit goal, only to address actual hunger arising from prolonged Stay-at-Home directives of government.

It proves government has no exclusive domain in providing solutions for the serious concerns of poor Filipinos languishing from the pandemic.

The simple idea has solicited support even from those who do not belong to the country’s top billionaires. Many donors did not come from rich households. The poor were seen not taking advantage of the free food.

People felt compelled to share because they saw government was not doing enough.

A UP sociologist said, “Community pantries can be seen as acts of resistance against three things: first, against a government that fails to adequately address citizens’ needs; second, against a biased and discriminatory view of the poor as selfish and greedy; and third, against aid initiatives from institutions that are difficult to trust.”

Yes, barangay and DSWD officials giving out cash suffer from trust issues. Documented stories of corruption often get deleted, tagged as isolated cases.

In this time of global crisis, community pantries show generosity and honesty are still abundant. The unique Batanes ‘honest store’ is a good precursor.

Sadly, generosity and honesty may prove to be a challenge to our honorable government officials who flaunt an excellent pandemic response against daily cases of more than 10K.

Proofs that honesty is rare in this administration: senators and congressmen admitted taking Ivermectin, a cheap anti-COVID-19 drug detested by health officials; cabinet secretaries and PSG staff getting injected with smuggled (officially tagged as donated) vaccines; mayors and other local officials vaccinated ahead of the priority list; an infected cabinet secretary quickly getting a hospital room while hundreds wait outside for a vacant bed.

The vaccine czar admitted dealing with vaccine hoarding by affluent countries – lame excuse to the delayed deliveries of procured vaccines – without realizing the same is happening in the distribution of donated vaccines throughout the Philippines.

Local politicians are already scheming to use free vaccines in exchange for votes next year. Expect Malacanang to offer lip service in trying to stop this. Malacanang’s main tenant is a highly seasoned city mayor who knows all the dirty tricks to get elected.

Will Malacanang adopt the community pantry idea? Of course not. There’s nothing to gain – no money, no votes.

When you see a city/town-sponsored community pantry, expect a huge banner: A Project of Mayor … Nothing altruistic in that. Only a lot of mistrust.

As community pantries are replicated elsewhere, the level of mistrust with government rises. Hope it spreads like wildfire.

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