(Un)common Sense by James Veloso
(Un)Common Sense

On community pantries

Apr 30, 2021, 12:37 AM
James Veloso

James Veloso

Columnist

I remember a story I once read about a monk who encountered a sick woman who, due to political reasons, does not want to be hospitalized.

The monk decided to bring the woman to the shack where he lived, but then he was accosted by a group of women who tried to tell him off. It would only bring trouble for him to harbor a politically suspect person, they said.

The monk replied: “I am a monk, a humble servant of God. If you see evil in my caring for the sick, then you are evil.”

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I am not surprised that some elements of the Duterte administration – most notably the “anti-Communists” – have seen red in the sudden proliferation of community pantries in the Philippines.

There are now reports of such food-sharing programs being closed after the organizers were accused of supporting Communists – most notably, the organizer of the original community pantry in Maginhawa, Quezon City.

For the life of me, I could not understand why some of our government officials think that helping others out has a sinister agenda.

The organizer herself has said that her action was brought out of a genuine desire to help people in need. The same could be said of almost every organizer of similar programs that had sprouted all over the Philippines.

Hospitality, compassion, and a compulsion to help others in times of need have been touted as some of the Filipinos’ greatest positive qualities.

We’ve seen that in 2013 in the aftermath of supertyphoon “Yolanda,” when people from all walks of life gathered together to give out aid to affected residents in Samar and Leyte.

The only people with “sinister” agendas may be the local politicos who suddenly jump in the community pantry bandwagon and have launched similar programs with an obvious desire to garner support and popularity for the 2022 polls.

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Meanwhile, the recent brouhaha in San Pedro City about the distribution of cash aid should serve as a lesson for all local government units.

The main lesson? Don’t cross a populace desperate for help, especially during such a time as a global pandemic.

Let’s not be critical to those who have complained that they received less than P4,000 that was promised to them by the national government.

After all, almost everybody’s pockets had taken a beating during this pandemic.

That extra P4,000 may actually mean life or death to many low-income families who have seen their livelihood stopped by the imposition of stricter quarantines.

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