Will this last, and for how long? Some skeptics question the sustainability of community pantries. Is this the right thing to do? Are people capable of taking enough for what they need? Can we grow a mutual aid movement amidst the pandemic? Last week, the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) started to visit community pantry organizers nationally and discredited some of its leading figures. Many human rights groups condemned this act of profiling the community organizers by a body organized to implement the enhanced Anti-Terrorism Law of 2020. They likened it to acts of “red-tagging.” The action is severe because once a person or group gets red-tagged, this may lead to unlawful detentions and killings.
However, despite the security concerns and fears raised by the pantry organizers, they continued operation. More community-led pantries spread all over the country, and financial support increased after unjust red-tagging. No less than the Supreme Court asked the National Security adviser to explain the incidence of red-tagging. Indeed, we cannot stop people from doing good.
It is exciting to see daily innovations in action. At Atbang’s Bolhigh, they decided to pack the goods to avoid less human traffic. They also limited the distribution to three hours in the morning with a target number of beneficiaries for the day. At the Lawis Community Pantry, the community leaders decided to pre-determine the families who will get the goods daily. It is crucial to have volunteers who know the people in the community directly. Also, promoting transparency in terms of receiving donations inspires people to give more.
Simple acts of goodness are a breath of fresh air in this challenging time.
Note: Community Pantry is a relatively new concept for Filipinos. We would love to hear more stories and experiences from everybody. Those wanting to help are also most welcome. Please email to: firstname.lastname@example.org