The Metro Manila Council (MMC) on Sunday urged organizers of community pantries in the National Capital Region (NCR) to coordinate with their respective town or city officials to ensure the proper observance of COVID-19 protocols.
“While the organizers of community pantries exemplify collective charity and concern for the plight of the underprivileged and are truly worthy of emulation, support, and praise, the primordial minimum public health standards under the prevailing community quarantine must remain paramount,” the resolution stated.
“The sacrifices endured and gains accumulated during the ECQ and MECQ must not be put to waste by a disregard of the prohibition on mass gatherings, observance of social distancing, and the wearing of face masks and face shields,” the resolution added – referring to the enhanced community quarantine and modified ECQ that prevails in Metro Manila.
Metropolitan Manila Development Authority Chairman Benhur Abalos, who is also the concurrent chairman of the MMC, said advance coordination would allow local government units to set up measures to ensure the observance of physical distancing and other public health protocols in community pantries.
Abalos also reminded individuals aged 17 below and senior citizens aged 65 and older to stay at home, in accordance with the guidelines set by the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID).
The resolution was unanimously approved by all the 17 mayors of Metro Manila on Friday, April 23, the same day that a 67-year-old man died while waiting in line for food assistance at a community pantry in Quezon City.
Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra declined to comment Sunday on any possible culpability of actress Angel Locsin, who organized the community pantry in Barangay Holy Spirit in Quezon City.
Guevarra said he could not make a statement on an incident that might be the subject of a complaint filed before the Department of Justice.
Locsin has apologized and promised to help the family of the 67-year-old man, Rolando dela Cruz.
De la Cruz collapsed while he was waiting for his turn at a community pantry organized by Locsin to celebrate her birthday.
Thousands of people flocked to the area after the actress invited her followers through her social media platforms to drop by at her pantry for free food items.
People were seen ignoring social distancing while gathered at a commercial building on Don Matias Street when the pantry was set-up.
The Quezon City government on Sunday urged residents and fans who went to the community pantry organized by Locsin to undergo free COVID-19 testing.
Dr. Rolando Cruz, City Epidemiology & Disease Surveillance Unit chief, called on residents who are showing COVID-19 symptoms, such as flu and cough after going to Locsin’s event at the Titanium Building in Barangay Holy Spirit to come forward and have themselves checked.
“We cannot just set aside the possibility of getting the infection since there were too many people who [went] there. It is better that we will not infect our own family and those in our community,” he said.
He appealed to Locsin and her team to coordinate and work closely with the city government should they be aware of any individuals who need to be tested immediately.