‘It’s lack of aid’: NTF adviser’s ‘death by community pantry’ tweet rebuffed

April 23, 2021 - 4:35 PM
Angel Locsin's community pantry
A shelf filled with goods in Angel Locsin's community pantry and the actress in front of the pantry in Quezon City. (Photos from Angel Locsin via Instagram)

A medical adviser for the National Task Force Against COVID-19 was reminded of the reason why some Filipinos heavily rely on community pantries after he blamed a death of an elderly to these initiatives.

Dr. Ted Herbosa on Friday reacted to reports of a senior citizen who lost consciousness and later on died while queuing at the newly-installed community pantry of actress Angel Locsin in Quezon City.

“Death by ‘community pantry.’ I told you so!” he tweeted with an accompanying screenshot of a report of News5.

“Mali ito. Don’t even try to defend this is right. Daming mag ka COVID19 diyan!” Herbosa added.

He also shared screengrabs of a video featuring the incident and wrote, “Tama po ba ito?”

(Screenshot by Interaksyon)

Herbosa placed his account into private after his tweets earned backlash from some Twitter users.

Teddy Herbosa deleted tweet
(Screenshots by Interaksyon)

Locsin on Friday opened a grocery-like community pantry in Barangay Holy Spirit at Quezon City to mark her birthday and honor the people behind the pantry initiatives across the country.

She shared that the community pantry was initially orderly when a problem on queue occurred. Some residents had no stubs yet cut in the line, causing further crowding.

A 67-year-old man identified as Rolando dela Cruz had lost consciousness in the process. He was rushed to the hospital but was later declared dead on arrival.

The actress said that it was not her intention cause harm and that they have previously sought the municipality’s help for crowd control, which she said has been given.

ALSO READ: ‘No harm intended’: Angel Locsin apologizes for commotion at birthday community pantry

In a statement, Quezon City Mayor Joy Belmonte said that the incident should serve as an important reminder for organizers to always “coordinate all efforts with the barangay.”

She asked the public to continue being “kind and compassionate, but practice foresight while doing both.”

Blame game?

Meanwhile, Herbosa’s remarks on the death of an elderly were not met well by some Filipinos who called him out for allegedly using it to besmirch the actress’ sincere initiative. Others reminded him why such an initiative was born in the first place.

“Teddy Herbosa is too quick to blame the community pantry for a death of a senior citizen who went there but is silent about the deaths caused by the government through state abuse, gross neglect and incompetence,” a Twitter user said.

“Someone died while waiting for his turn at a community pantry. An IATF medical adviser says it’s ‘death by community pantry.’ Sir, no. People endure the sweltering heat for a bag of food aid because guess what, the government has not provided enough help. So whose fault is it?” journalist Barnaby Lo tweeted.

“Can’t you see it’s the government’s ineptitude that killed him?” another Twitter user said in response to Herbosa’s tweet.

Forensic pathologist Dr. Raquel Fortun, who professionally examines causes and manners of deaths, likewise responded to Herbosa’s tweet.

“Come up with a logical train of events leading to demise. To identify the ultimate underlying cause, use the BUT FOR rule. But for ——— he would not have lined up in the heat to get free food,” Fortun added.

“As for manner of death, community pantry as cause is not natural. Was it suicide, accident or homicide?” she continued.

Community effort amid pandemic

The community pantry initiative was pioneered by Ana Patricia Non in Maginhawa, Quezon City to initially help Filipinos deeply affected by the imposition of the lockdowns in light of the pandemic.

“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.

“Hindi nito masasagot ang root cause ng kagutuman pero okay na din na pantawid gutom sa mga nangangailangan. Mahirap magtrabaho, mag-aral at lumaban habang kumakalam ang tiyan,” she also said in another interview.

Soon, different community pantries emerged in other parts of the country as Filipinos continue to be inspired by Non’s selfless initiative, strengthened by their show of solidarity.

The initiatives come at a time when the Greater Manila Area remains under the second strictest lockdown phase, the modified enhanced community quarantine, in a bid to reduce the COVID-19 transmission.

Due to restrictions, others are still unable to work on-site while some cannot afford to work remotely due to the nature of their jobs and other individual circumstances.

The government has distributed cash and in-kind aid through its social amelioration program but progressive groups said that these are not enough for Filipinos.

Some lawmakers said the community pantry initiatives indicate the national government’s inability to provide for its people amid the pandemic.

Sen. Ping Lacson called it a sign of “desperation,” noting that “people can no longer rely on the government to help them.”

Rep. Carlos Zarate (Bayan Muna) also said that the efforts are “an act of resistance against government neglect and indifference.”