The community pantry initiative

"Wake up, people!"


Kudos to Ana Patricia Non, the young entrepreneur who started the community pantry initiative. The government should recognize her ingenuity. For unknown reasons, however, a local police unit was reported to be profiling her which scared her to bits. Sometimes, the narrow mindedness of some police units never ceases to amaze me.

Wake up you, people! With all the problems that this pandemic has brought upon us, the police should be thankful that someone has come up with a simple and novel initiative to help the needy. It shows that there is hope for humankind.

What started in one street corner is now apparently being replicated in many communities in Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao. It is somewhat similar to the food bank that is popular in the United States. The difference is that this community pantry initiative is much smaller and relies solely on the donations of well-meaning citizens who have a little more to spare to give to others who are much more in need.

It is basically a mom-and-pop operation but this is what makes it so manageable and efficient. All that a donor has to do is bring the donation to the site and leave the goods on the table. Those in need who are there would then pick only the quantity that they need and leave the rest to others. From what we have seen, so far, the operation seems to be following that script (except for one incident in Pasig where six individuals cleaned up the table for themselves and neighbors). That’s not how it works.

Let us hope that this endeavor will not just be a passing fancy that will end as fast as it started. It would be a pity if it fades after just a couple of weeks. But no matter how long this effort will last, at least it’s been shown that there is now a way to distribute donations more efficiently instead of always relying on barangay officials. For one, prospective donors from bigger businesses can be confident that the goods donated will really go directly to the needy. In similar government initiatives, donated goods sometimes find their way to the homes of government officials. The donors can also spread their donations to a lot more places which will benefit more people.

Perhaps, that’s one reason why this initiative is spreading like wild fire. The badly hit poorer segment of our society is so apparent for all to see. More astonishingly, there are so many people willing to give a helping hand even among those who are merely getting by. That is one of our redeeming traits as a people that we can be proud of—our willingness to help our fellow Filipinos.

* * *

It looks like an alleged Viber group composed of about 500 active and retired military personnel caused a hiccup within the defense establishment. It was considered serious enough for Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana and the AFP Chief of Staff General Cirilito Sobejana to issue strongly worded condemnations and denials that there are no officials within the Department of Defense and the AFP General Headquarters who are members of such group.

There have been, indeed, social media accounts like the one describing a hundred ships from the United States going to the West Philippine Sea to help us with our problems with China. This made me wonder: Where on earth did the US get 100 ships to send to the WPS?

There are many ways to look at this issue. One is that all is not well in Mount Olympus which means that there may be some disgruntled elements in the Armed Forces. It may also imply that the Presidents’ extreme generosity cannot always ensure total loyalty. One must have to do the right thing. Question is, what is the right thing to do that will satisfy everyone. The problem after all, is not that simple.

The President did issue a statement last Monday. Did it coincide with thinking of the group? Perhaps it only complicated the situation further. The statements reported to have originated from this group however, were not precise and other than the problem that it created didn’t say much. What exactly is a mild response? If they don’t agree with President Duterte’s handling of the situation, they should write him a letter outlining a better way of doing it. That way, the President will have something in writing to consider instead of mounting a psywar operation that only rattled some people.

Maybe they can tell him that his fixation on war is misplaced because there’s such a thing as diplomacy. War cannot be the only solution. There are many others.

For no other reason, this incident exposing the existence of a Viber group is now public knowledge.

Topics: Florencio Fianza , Ana Patricia Non , community pantry
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