Angel Locsin #CommunityPantry debacle highlights health and safety hazards posed by unregulated community initiatives

Just a few days ago in a previous article, I posed the question: Are community pantries deadly stampedes waiting to happen? Only time will tell. That was just four days ago — not much time for what looked to be an implausible risk at the time to become a real and serious concern.

ABS-CBN starlet Angel Locsin who also jumped on the bandwagon to put up her own such community pantry on the occasion of her birthday seemed to have reportedly bit off more than she could swallow…

LOOK: People flock at Titanium commercial building in Holy Spirit, Quezon City to get vegetables and other food items at the community pantry set-up by actress Angel Locsin as her gift to the people affected by the pandemic during her birthday. (MB photo by Ali Vicoy)

If you find yourself shaking your head as you behold the throngs of people in the above photos, think more of the subsequent report of senior citizen Rolando dela Cruz, 67, who was amongst them collapsing and later dying.

Dela Cruz was among those who fell in line at the community pantry that was organized for Locsin’s 36th birthday at a commercial building on Don Matias Street. Locsin briefly led the distribution of goods to those who were lined up and went live on Facebook before noon on Friday to say that stubs were given to those availing of the provisions.

Locsin later reportedly apologised for the tragedy, the chaos that led to it, and the inconvenience felt by residents of the areas affected by these enormous crowds. Reporter Jeline Malasig described the situation at the time surrounding the incident as “grim” which was consistent with Locsin’s own personal recollection…

Locsin said some residents who [did] not have stubs cut the line, causing further crowding.

“Nagpatulong rin po kami sa munisipyo na mabilis naman po ang pagtugon sa aming barangay din po. May mga pumunta rin po dito na mga pulis at saka mga military na tumutulong naman po pero ‘yun lang po, hindi lang po talaga nila ma-control ‘yung mga tao,” Locsin said.

(Locsin’s quoted Tagalog statement translates: “We requested assistance from the municipal authorities who were quick to respond. Some police officers and military personnel also came to help but really could not control the crowd…”)

The incident highlights the problem with initiatives like these which could attract a large crowd, at best posing an inconvenience to residents of affected neighbourhoods and, at worst, leading to loss of life and damage to property if said crowds turn unruly. Indeed, a crowd of desperate people is a tinderbox that could be set off by the smallest spark or altercation. More importantly, it puts into the spotlight earlier messages being sent out by Opposition “activists” and “thought leaders” who denounced efforts by the police to be present in areas where community pantries were springing up and local government authorities to apply regulatory oversight to these activities.

One example of this arrogance amongst key personalities in the Opposition is lawyer Rowena Guanzon, a commissioner in the Commission on Elections (COMELEC), who issued explicit threats on Twitter to flout local government regulation in her plans to set up her own community pantry.

My sister doctor asked me to set up a community pantry in front of our parents' house in Cadiz. Go ahead, fools, require me to get a permit. Make my day.

Indeed this is behaviour unbecoming of a law practitioner. Guanzon seems to forget that laws and rules are in place to mitigate the risks of precisely the sorts of things that happened to Locsin’s initiative. “Activists” should see the lesson in all this and learn to be a bit more circumspect when demonising police officers and government officials who are merely doing their jobs.

As the Locsin incident shows, the public will more than likely always turn to state authorities and state forces for help when things get really problematic. It highlights just how dishonest the tired old Yellowtard (the bloc of Opposition partisans loyal to the Aquino-Cojuangco clan) and communist anti-police and anti-establishment rhetoric is. You can’t just dismiss the police and local authorities as the “bad guys”. Who are you going to turn to when things get out of hand? The New People’s Army?

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11 Comments on “Angel Locsin #CommunityPantry debacle highlights health and safety hazards posed by unregulated community initiatives”

  1. As long as she informed the barangay officials beforehand, I can’t really find fault in that. The barangay officials can be the ones to ask for police and/or military assistance if they become overwhelmed I think.

    With her clout, I would believe the huge crowd was to be expected.

    Condolence to the family of the man who passed away while waiting in line.

    1. Reports do say that she had coordinated with the local government and the police when she organised her community pantry. One could say it all went wrong when it was announced on social media but then one could also argue that advertising free food in an impoverished society like the Philippines is asking for trouble to begin with.

      1. True. I watched an interview she gave in TV Patrol and I would say it is “naive” or “pretending to be naive” of her to say she did not expect her reach to call on so many people.

        Her cause is noble, but after the interview I can’t really believe it needed hindsight on her part to know that she will basically invite a “riot” to arrive if she broadcast it on her socmed account.

        She could have just gone around random barangay halls and gave them portions of what she planned to give out from her “pantry” and they could distribute it, discreetly nonetheless.

        A part of me wonders if she felt the need to broadcast herself doing “something” for some feel good energy to come her way (validation seeking that she is doing good). She isn’t active in mass media with shows or movies so there is nothing to promote really.

        I think she has been discreet in her other “charities” or actions but I may be misremembering. So I really don’t know.

        The barangay official however did come out and say that they were only requested to assist with 2 tanods, so maybe the socmed tweet was an after the fact action.

        Her desire to do good is a noble one, don’t get me wrong there. But to not even realize her reach/clout when she announces anything is something I don’t really believe is true. She definitely knows, as she has had that effect in media.

      2. @17Sphynx17: Yes, again proving that while a lot of people can come up with “good” ideas and apply them with the best intentions, the devil is in the execution. Risk Management 101 tells us to be aware of the worst scenario. Often the cost of simple mitigation measures are a small fraction of the cost you are exposed to if that worst scenario materialises.

        In Locsin’s case the risk of not implementing those measures is vastly amplified by her celebrity and the cabal of starstruck cheerleaders that surround her person.

      3. Boggles the mind that a 36 year old wannabe politician still does not have the intelligence to manage an outreach program. It would have been so simple to have bought food supplies and chosen a barangay and did a house to house distribution instead of making poor people LINE UP come to her.

        *especially that her food pantry was ONLY for 300 stubs (while supply last)
        **I say ONLY because she advertised it to her TENS OF MILLIONS OF FANS (who are mostly nasa laylayan)
        ***basta komunista magaling lang są propaganda

  2. Some blame the organizers, then others blame the government for the condition that led to the need to create food lines. For me, neither. The Filipino tendency to crowd and go wild at times is what I blame. That’s what makes advertising free food asking for trouble, since Filipinos do not like to be regulated even if it’s for preventing trouble in such situations. You can’t always blame the government since the disease can slip through cracks if it wants to, especially in our crowded and impoverished society. And the disease will still scare people and make them lock themselves down, and it is still more likely to lead to the same situation with people out of work and businesses closing.

  3. Truly a tragedy… however Angel Locsin’s heart was in the right place in trying to help the country. Shame and absolutely disgusting behavior by benign0 to use this tragedy for POLITICAL reasons.

    Painting with a broad brush eh benign0? Now we should close ALL community pantries and let people starve right? What help have you done for the philippines from the comfort of AUSTRALIA?

    Nothing just whining in your chi-chi blog…

    Maybe we should get the government to REGULATE all the community pantry. They need to pay for permits of $2000 pesos each to make a community pantry (in order to line politicians pockets). Also they have to agree to put the face of senator BONG GO on every vegetable so people will know who their benefactor is.

    Great idea benign0 the FOOL!!

  4. We have now food riots, in our country….people are fighting like animals for the food pantry, set up by Angel Locsin….

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