Duterte salutes people behind community pantries but reminds them of restrictions

Alexis Romero - Philstar.com
Duterte salutes people behind community pantries but reminds them of restrictions
Residents line up to get free food and supplies as the Maginhawa community pantry in Quezon City reopens on Wednesday, April 21, 2021.
The STAR / Michael Varcas

MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte has urged organizers of community pantries to ensure that safety protocols are observed to prevent crowding that may result in the spread of COVID-19.

Duterte said while people who distribute free goods to the needy are admirable, they should see to it that regulations are complied with. He cited a report about 86 persons testing positive for COVID-19 after attending a food distribution activity in Barangay Matandang Balara, Quezon City more than two weeks ago.

"While we have the best of intentions...we must ensure that these activities will not go out of control and become superspreader events," Duterte said during a pre-recorded public address last Monday.

"You know, there is no question about this pantry scheme. As a matter of fact, I salute the people behind these and those who originated it.... If it’s a matter of assessing whether or not you are doing (good), you are doing super good, I salute you and you have a good conscience...But please, read the restriction first," he added.  

Duterte said community pantry organizers whose beneficiaries got infected with the virus may have not read or were ignorant of the prohibitions imposed by the law.

"If there is crowding, it would become a super spreader, the virus will spread and it will not end," the president said.

Duterte noted that other countries are dealing with a resurgence of COVID-19 and the Philippines may experience the same if people are complacent.

"Read first and you will learn (that) the contamination is hard to control. It just keeps going back. They have the spike, then they can put it under control, then they go to a lockdown," Duterte said.

"You know, I know that you want to go out. I know that you are itching to travel. But please, if you can do it some other time, do it some other time... I hold everyone responsible for complying with the regulations," he added. 

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