As different community pantry initiatives pop up in several areas, a certain project was called out for bearing a local politician’s name despite the project concept being a collective effort.
Social media users reminded Caloocan City Councilor Vince Hernandez that the nature of the community pantry is for Filipinos to help their fellows who are struggling amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
In a now-deleted Facebook post, the local official set up a community pantry along Saranay Road in Bagumbong bearing his name. The hashtag “#ConVINCEd” was also included in the post.
“Caloocan naman! Mula sa masa, tungo sa masa!” part of the councilor’s post reads.
“Magbigay ayon sa kakayahan. Kumuha batay sa pangangailangan,” it added.
While the project was inspired by the original Maginhawa community pantry, it was not warmly received by some Filipinos who noticed the presence of his name in the initiative.
“Mas malapad pa ‘yung tarp niya kesa sa actual na mesa. Ew,” a Twitter user said who shared a screengrab of the post.
“Vince Hernandez, community pantry ‘yan. Ibig sabihin, initiative ng komunidad. Magbibigay ang komunidad at kukuha rin sila. Kung gusto mong ilagay ang pangalan mo, ‘wag mong tawaging COMMUNITY PANTRY. VINCE HERNANDEZ PANTRY is MOST APPROPRIATE. ‘Wag naman ganyan,” a Facebook user said.
Another Facebook user also re-used the hashtag the councilor initially used in his post.
“Mula sa masa, tungo sa masa pero may pagpaskil ng pangalan at pa-hashtag pa?? Mga oportunista nga naman. #WereNotConVinced,” he wrote.
The Facebook post also made its way to local Reddit’s trending list, where it similarly raised eyebrows for including a politician’s name.
A Reddit user claimed that the move is similar to their own community where “the SK is trying to take the credit from the actual neighbourhood kids that started it in the area.”
SK stands for Sangguniang Kabataan, a council meant to represent the youth in each barangay.
The first of the community pantry appeared along Maginhawa Street in Quezon City to freely cater to Filipinos who are in need of food sources, especially in the Greater Manila Area which is under the modified enhanced community quarantine.
Those who have the means are encouraged to donate.
The initiative was set up by Ana Patricia Non who admitted to being inspired and “agitated” by the current lockdown situation and how it is affecting Filipinos.
“The unemployment rate is high, the line for relief goods is long, and Pinoys are hungry,” she said to GMA News Online before.
“We have been demanding a lot, but supplies are not enough. We really need to help each other. Community effort,” Non added.
She stressed that community effort needs to be maintained since she cannot afford to be the only one to stock up on the goods.
“While at home, I always think that I’m so privileged because I get to eat three times a day, and even though my budget is tight, at least I still have one. What about those who have nothing at all? They are dependent on their daily income for their food,” she said.
“I’m hopeful that it will keep on going, especially now that so many people are hungry,” Non added.
For Non, the growing number of the pantries is a “wake-up call” that is telling the government about the people’s great need for aid especially this lockdown.
The Palace lauded the initiative but some lawmakers said it is an indication that “people can no longer rely on the government to help them.”
“Mabuti rin yung nagkaroon ng community pantry, may mutual aid yung magkakapitbahay, magkakabarangay. Pero ito na yung sign ng desperation ng mga tao na hindi sila maka-rely sa gobyerno,” Sen. Ping Lacson said to a Dobol B TV interview before.
“Community [pantries are] an act of resistance against government neglect and indifference,” Rep. Carlos Zarate (Bayan Muna) also said on Twitter.