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More Philippine parishes open community pantries

Places offering free food for the poor during the pandemic are mushrooming across the country thanks to bishops' appeal

More Philippine parishes open community pantries

People queue to look for food at a community pantry in Baguio City in the Philippines. (Photo supplied)

Community pantries are springing up across the Philippines after Catholic bishops this week called on people to support the effort in Manila to help the poor during the coronavirus pandemic.

The call came after a woman set up one such pantry in Manila's Quezon City last week.   

The bishops’ conference has praised the efforts, saying they were built on generosity and care for the hungry.

“We are happy to know that in recent days … neighborhoods and communities [across the country] have organized themselves to help needy families, especially with food and other basic necessities,” bishops’ conference president Archbishop Romulo Valles said on April 21.

He said it was proof Filipinos care for each other.

Several pantries for indigenous people have been set up in Baguio City, north of Manila, while Catholics in La Union and Nueva Vizcaya provinces have included face masks and face shields in pantries set up for medical workers fighting Covid-19.

Everyone is free to donate as much as he can, but no one should get more than what he needs

On Boracay island in Aklan province, parishioners have donated canned goods for street cleaners and garbage collectors.

A group of Muslim doctors in the Mindanao region opened halal community pantries for the poor in Zamboanga province.

“We are collecting fruit, vegetables and all types of non-perishable halal food items for our community pantry targeting underprivileged families,” they said.

“Everyone is free to donate as much as he can, but no one should get more than what he needs,” Dr. Abdul Javar Esturco told the MindaNews daily.

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In Maguindanao province, parishioners called their community pantry an “honesty bench” where anyone can get food packs made from local produce.

“We do not discriminate. Muslims or Christians can get food packs from our honesty bench as long as they do not deprive others who want to eat as well. They should get only their food for the day,” resident Maricris Polilo told UCA News.

“Our sense of nationalism and love for our fellow Filipinos are manifested in many ways. We went to the streets to fight a corrupt government. We share what we have to fight a pandemic.” 

Manila apostolic administrator Bishop Broderick Pabillo urged more clergymen and Catholic families to join the project.

“I encourage priests, parishes and basic ecclesial communities to join this movement of lifting our fellow brothers and sisters who have nothing to eat. Love and generosity are the greatest antidotes to this pandemic,” Bishop Pabillo said in a radio interview.

“We commend the initiative of the community pantry because it shows cooperation.” 

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