NTF adviser’s tweet about death by community pantry pushed back

The Angel Locsin Community Pantry
A shelf full of merchandise in Angel Locsin’s community pantry and the actress in front of the pantry in Quezon City. (Photos by Angel Locsin via Instagram)

A medical consultant for the National COVID-19 Task Force recalled why some Filipinos rely heavily on community food pantries after blaming the death of an elderly person on these initiatives.

dr. Ted Herbosa reacted on Friday to reports of an elderly person who lost consciousness and later died while queuing outside the actress’ newly installed community pantry Angel Locsin in Quezon City.

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

“Mali that. Don’t even try to defend it’s fair. Daming mag ka COVID19 diyan!” Herbosa added.

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

(Screenshot by Interaksyon)

Herbosa took her account to private after her tweets drew backlash from some Twitter users.

Teddy Herbosa deleted his tweet
(Screenshot by Interaksyon)

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

She shared that the community pantry was initially ordered when a queuing issue occurred. Some residents did not yet have cut sections in the line, which led to further overcrowding.

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

The actress said it was not her intention to cause harm and that they had already requested the municipality’s help with crowd control, which she said was granted.

READ ALSO : ‘No ill intent’: Angel Locsin apologizes for commotion at birthday community pantry

In one declarationMayor of Quezon City Joy Belmonte said the incident should serve as an important reminder for organizers to always “coordinate all efforts with the barangay”.

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

Blame game?

Meanwhile, Herbosa’s remarks about the death of an elderly person did not go down well with some Filipinos who called him out for allegedly using him to smear 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 food pantry for the death of an elderly person who went there, but he says nothing about the deaths caused by the government because of the abuses of the state, of gross negligence and incompetence,” said a twitter user noted.

“Someone died waiting their turn in a community pantry. An IATF medical adviser says it’s “death by the community pantry”. Sir, no. People are enduring the sweltering heat for a bag of food aid because guess what, the government hasn’t provided enough aid. So who is to blame ? journalist Barnaby Lo tweeted.

“Don’t you see that it was the incompetence of the government that killed him? another one twitter user said in response to Herbosa’s tweet.

Medical Examiner Dr. Raquel Fortun, who professionally reviews causes and manners of death, also responded to Herbosa’s tweet.

“Find a logical sequence of events leading to death. To identify the ultimate underlying cause, use the BUT FOR rule. But for ——— he wouldn’t have stood in line in the heat for free food,” Fortun added.

“As for the manner of death, the community pantry as a cause is unnatural. Was it suicide, accident or homicide? she continued.

Community effort amid the pandemic

The Community Food Pantry initiative was launched by Ana Patricia No in Maginhawa, Quezon City to initially help Filipinos deeply affected by the imposition of lockdowns in light of the pandemic.

“The unemployment rate is high, the line for relief is long and the Pinoys are hungry,” she told GMA News Online previously.

“We have demanded a lot, but the supplies are not enough. We really need to help each other. Community effort,” added No.

“Hindi nito masasagot the root cause of all that is well with everyone. Mahirap magtrabaho, mag-aral and 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 No’s selfless initiative, bolstered by their show of solidarity.

The initiatives come at a time when the Metro Manila area remains under the second strictest phase of lockdown, the Modified Enhanced Community Quarantine, in a bid to reduce the transmission of COVID-19.

Due to restrictions, others still cannot work onsite while some cannot afford to work remotely due to the nature of their work and other individual circumstances.

The government has distributed cash and in-kind aid as part of its social betterment program, but progressive groups have said this is not enough for Filipinos.

Some lawmakers have said 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 count on the government to help them”.

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

Norma P. Rex