MANILA – The Quezon City government was not advised by the group of actress Angel Locsin regarding its community pantry, marred by the death of a 67-year-old man on Friday.
In a statement, Mayor Joy Belmonte said “it would have surely made a difference” had they been advised about Locsin’s pantry.
“Advanced coordination will allow all stakeholders to be proactive, rather than reactive. Sadly, in this case, we were not advised regarding any plans,” she said.
She then reminded pantry organizers to communicate with officials.
“While Quezon City will continue to throw its full support behind community pantry initiatives, this unfortunate incident should serve as an important reminder for organizers to please be reminded of my appeal to coordinate all efforts with the barangay, and if necessary, with the LGU (local government unit),” Belmonte’s statement read.
She said the local government is “deeply saddened” over the incident.
The senior citizen, identified as Rolando dela Cruz, fainted while on the queue at Locsin’s community pantry along Holy Spirit Drive in Don Antonio Heights, Barangay Holy Spirit.
He was declared dead on arrival in a hospital.
Locsin apologized on Instagram, saying, “Habang buhay po ako hihingi ng patawad sa kanila (I will forever ask for their forgiveness),” referring to the victim’s family.
Dela Cruz, she said, was a balut (fertilized bird egg) vendor and lined up as early as 3 a.m.
Locsin said the pantry was her way of celebrating her 36th birthday.
As early as 2 a.m., people flocked to the area and physical distancing was no longer observed, according to village officials.
“Hindi po ito ang gusto ko. Nagsimula po kami nang maayos po ang aming layunin, pati po ang pagpaplano ng social distancing. Nagkataon lang po talaga na siguro gutom lang po talaga ’yung tao na kahit wala po sa pila, sumingit po sila. Sa mga nagambala ko po dito, pasensya na po (This was not my intention. We planned for this, including the social distancing. Maybe the people are really hungry that they tried to skip the line. I apologize to all those who were affected),” Locsin posted.
The QC government will extend help to the victim’s family.
“The city government will shoulder the burial expenses of Mr. dela Cruz, and will extend financial assistance to his family,” Belmonte said.
She said senior citizens are allowed to leave home for essential purposes.
“As per guidelines, seniors can leave home if going to work or for essential reasons, like buying food, medicine, vaccination, doctors’ appointments, dealing with emergencies, etc. I would interpret going to pantries for food as an allowable activity since food is essential,” Belmonte said. Marita Moaje / PNA – northboundasia.com