Free community food pantries sprout as aid delayed

A woman receives free food at a makeshift stall called "Community Pantry" beside Maginhawa street, Quezon city, Philippines on Monday, April 19,2021. Donated food and other essential items from residents or volunteers are placed on makeshift stalls for people who need it as many have lost jobs due to quarantine measures set by the government to curb the surge in COVID-19 cases in the country. The idea "Give what you can, take what you need." prompted several communities around the metropolitan to put their own makeshift stalls to support people struggling to make ends meet. (AP Photo/Aaron Favila)

Dozens of makeshift stalls for food donations have sprouted across the country, as the government said aid for the poor had been delayed for weeks after another lockdown.

Only four billion pesos (RM342mil) of the 23 billion-peso budget for aid had been handed out as distribution was hampered by measures to curb spread of the virus, presidential spokesman Harry Roque said at a virtual briefing on Monday.

Amid these delays, some Filipinos are queuing for free food from pantries set up by communities and individuals, replicating one put up by a female resident from Quezon City in the capital.

But this first “community pantry” temporarily shut yesterday after the organiser was reportedly questioned by cops over alleged links to communists, ABS-CBN reported.

The pantries show what the public can do “when the government is absent, ” former Vice-president Jejomar Binay said on Twitter.

President Rodrigo Duterte’s government, however, did not view the pantries as a “condemnation” of its pandemic response, Roque said.

“It simply shows the best in us during the worst of times, ” he said. — Bloomberg

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