A 'Permit to Help' Doesn't Exist, Says Mayor Vico Sotto

He and Rex Gatchalian have spoken up on community pantry "permits."

(SPOT.ph) "Wala po tayong 'Permit to Help,'" said Pasig City Mayor Vico Sotto on Facebook, clarifying his administration's stance on whether community pantries need to secure permits before operating—as the Department of the Interior and Local Government Undersecretary Martin Diño stated earlier on April 20.

Mayor Rex Gatchalian of Valenzuela City also declared on Facebook the same day that permits are not needed, adding, "If somebody gives you trouble let me know... ako bahala sa kanila."

Both mayors clearly stated that no permits are necessary when setting up a community pantry. Gatchalian reminded folks to adhere to the health protocols while Sotto commended those who have joined the effort. "Government has limited resources, so any effort to help others is very welcome," wrote Sotto.

The Pasig mayor shared a few pictures of their local community pantries, amounting to around 30 outposts. More than a hundred sprang up in Metro Manila alone, with more across the nation, after news of the Maginhawa one went viral. 

Community Pantries
Folks lined up at the Maginhawa Community pantry on April 18.
PHOTO BY Cara Oliver
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Community Pantries
Personal hygiene items were part of the goods at the Matatag Community Pantry in Quezon City.
PHOTO BY Mia Rodriguez

Confusion Over Community Pantries

The confusing statements from the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) undersecretary in an interview with ANC's Karen Davila left Metro Manila folks very confused. "Nung una, paisa-isa lang 'yan. Ngayon, dahil ibinroadcast na ng ating malalaking television network itong napaka-noble itong inimpisuhan dito sa Maginhawa, dinumog na ng mga tao," said Diño.

However, DILG Undersecretary Jonathan Malaya stated that the said permits "will be counterproductive sa panahon ng pandemya kung saan kailangan nating magtulungan na mayroong galaw para ipatigil ito," in a Teleradyo interview, later on the same day.

The confusion over why a profit-free effort would need a barangay permit was heightened by the recent alleged red-tagging of the community pantries. Patricia Non, who started the first community pantry along Maginhawa Street in Quezon City had to pause operations on April 20 amid rising tension. 

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