Press Release
April 20, 2021

CNN News Night Interview of Sen. Win Gatchalian with Rico Hizon on Community Pantries

Q: This is how the government refaced the Filipino Bayanihan spirit, red tagging, securing permits and filling up information sheets?

SEN. WIN: Actually, this is the single best news that we have in the last three weeks, especially after the surge. If you remember after the surge, every day we would say condolences, we'll see friends and families, some of their loved ones would pass away. This is actually the single best good news that we ever had after the surge and we should encourage this type of Bayanihan spirit because it's the private sector, people helping other, people without government intervention, without even asking a single centavo from the government. And we shouldn't be treating these people this way.

Q: What about the red tagging, securing of permits and seeking information sheets from these organizers of community pantries? They should stop, because if it all started in the first place, this was started by the government.

SEN. WIN: I don't understand this, because why the need to red tag? I know, like for example here in Valenzuela, I know some friends who started their own community pantries, they're not connected to any groups. These are just pure ordinary citizens who want to help, they're not even connected to the government, actually. So, it's quite disturbing that the government, the police, even the task force is looking for loopholes discouraging people from doing this. And I'm discouraged because this is happening to people who are doing their own part to help other people.

Q: So, Senator, you mentioned a key word there, loopholes. Is the government you think is looking for loopholes because it has mishandled the COVID-19 response and it is doing very poorly?

SEN. WIN: Actually, I want to shy away from connecting this to any response, COVID response, amelioration response, social response. This is pure volunteerism and the intention of the volunteers or the intention of the proponent, is just to help. I don't think they did this to criticize government. I don't think they did this to connect this to the pandemic response. So let's leave it at that. I don't think it's right for politician or proper for any politicians to connect this to any response because it will be politicized. In fact, we should leave them alone, because this is pure volunteerism, pure kindness of heart, and it should stay that way.

Q: So there's really no place in this modern day Bayanihan and spirit initiative, Senator for red tagging, securing permits and filling up information sheets for these community pantry organizers. This has to stop now.

SEN. WIN: I don't even understand the permits. I was a Mayor before and this type of micro volunteerism, does not need any permit. First of all, it doesn't make money so you don't need a permit. You only get permit if it's for profit. But this is pure volunteerism. It's out in their backyard so it's not as if their setting up a store to help one another. So in short, let's leave the private sector alone, they're doing their help. This is micro volunteerism to help our poor constituents. And the last thing we want is to discourage people from doing so. In Valenzuela, we've seen three of these sprouting in the city and we encourage that. In fact we want more, and this is a venue for other donors to give their goods and to help other people.

Q: Senator, you've been quoted in a statement saying that this kind of initiative should encourage more participants, particularly from the private sector to join this kind of community pantries, but hasn't the private sector done its part, or even more during this pandemic and the private sector is hurting because of the flip flopping of policies of government.

SEN. WIN: Actually, this type of community pantries I saw it's a micro venue for donors and not all donors can donate millions. Not all donors can donate hundreds of millions. So if you have a small amount, if you want to donate in kind, this is a venue to do so. So the private sector yes it's doing their part, in fact, during the lockdown last year the private sector has done tremendously donating straight to the local governments. Now, donating straight to our constituents and again we should encourage that. Again, I would shy away from connecting this to any pandemic response because it will just be politicized, and if that happens, people will just be turned off.

Q: But don't you think with all of this red tagging and all of this negative news, impacting these community pantries, it will discourage individuals to donate and eventually they'll just say, forget about it. I will just stay away from it because I could be red tagged and, you know, why should they still donate? I've already given so much.

SEN. WIN: You're absolutely correct. In fact, before this call, I was talking to one of our constituents in Venezuela, and their friends started their own community pantry, and to my surprise, the police went there to ask questions. And of course the police right now they're all wearing their outdoor camouflage gear and it doesn't send a good signal. I was actually quite surprised that the police even went to them. This is just one or two tables. We're not talking about the whole store of donated goods. This is just a very small donation. So my point here is the government should back off. They should stay off this community pantries and encourage more of this to sprout in our cities.

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