Community pantries a desperate call for help amid pandemic – Lacson

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, April 18) -- The rise of community pantries in different parts of the country can be considered a desperate call for help amid the pandemic, said Senator Panfilo Lacson on Sunday.

Lacson lauded such an initiative amid the health crisis, but noted it's a sign that people can no longer rely on the government to put food on the table.

“It is good that through community pantries, we see mutual aid by neighbors and barangay residents. But this is also a sign of desperation, that people can no longer rely on government to help them,” said Lacson in a radio interview.

The community pantry initiative, where residents can donate basic goods, started along Maginhawa Street in Quezon City. After going viral on social media over the weekend, more pantries and carts sprang up in various areas in Metro Manila and other regions.

“When you realize you cannot rely solely on government, you band together to find ways to survive,” added Lacson.

Vice President Leni Robredo also on Sunday expressed hopes that more community pantries will be set up in other areas.

Lacson also voiced his concern after President Rodrigo Duterte claimed that the government has had no shortcomings in addressing the pandemic.

He pointed out that Health Secretary Francisco Duque III and vaccine czar Carlito Galvez, Jr., two of the country's top pandemic response officials, will not improve their performance if the President continues to defend them.

“If the President says they have no shortcomings and his subordinates believe it, they will not see the need to make adjustments,” said Lacson. “But we all know the government had had many shortcomings, including the late purchase of vaccines and over-regulation of the private sector.”

Duterte earlier asked the public for patience with the government response, saying that some countries in Europe are also currently under lockdown.