MANILA – Actress Angel Locsin committed a serious mistake when she invited her fans via her social media pages to go to her community pantry, where a 67-year-old vendor who has been in line before sunrise, fainted and eventually died in a hospital on Friday.
Barangay Holy Spirit Chair Felicito Valmocina said Locsin’s post that everyone is welcome gave him the chills.
“Ang follower niya sa Facebook pina-trace ko sa aking mga IT, 21 million sa Facebook, sa kaniyang Instagram 8.6 million, sa kaniyang Twitter 12.6 million. Kaya pala kako ang lahat ng mga tao na taga iba ibang lugar ay pumunta dahil dito sa post na ito (I asked my information technology staff to trace it. Her Facebook followers 21 million, in Instagram 8.6 million, in Twitter 12.6 million. So that is why all these people came over because of her post),” Valmocina told the Philippine News Agency in a phone interview.
The fatality, Rolando dela Cruz, was among the thousands who hoped to get free goods from Locsin’s community pantry along Holy Spirit Drive in Don Antonio Heights, Barangay Holy Spirit.
Dela Cruz did not even get a glimpse of the actress, who said she organized the pantry to mark her 36th birthday.
Valmocina said Locsin’s camp sought their assistance two days before and requested only for two tanod (watchmen).
He thought it would only be a small community pantry, judging from their request, but he doubted it, owing to Locsin’s popularity.
“Naka-monitor ako alas-singko pa lang ng umaga, isang daan na. Pagkatapos, alas sais, alas syete, alas otso, nasa 2,500 na ang tao. Umabot na ng COA [Commission on Audit], doon sa may Commonwealth Avenue Market. Umabot ng almost two kilometers na ang pila (I was monitoring from 5 a.m., there were already a hundred people. Then 6 a.m., 7 a.m., 8 a.m., the crowd was already at 2,500. The lines have reached COA near the Commonwealth Avenue Market. It was almost at two kilometer long),” Valmocina said.
Valmocina then decided to deploy about 70 watchmen for crowd control.
Where’s your common sense?
“Nang tanungin ng mga tao ko, may taga-Rizal, taga-San Jose Del Monte sa Bulacan, taga-Navotas, Malabon, Tondo, Cavite pa, isipin ninyo. ‘Pag tinatanong ng mga tao ko bakit kayo nandito, bakit nakarating kayo, ang sabi nila ‘nabasa namin sa post ni idol na inaanyayahan kami dito’ (We learned they came from Rizal province, San Jose Del Monte in Bulacan, Navotas, Malabon, Tondo, and even Cavite. When asked why there were there, they answered, our idol posted this. She invited us here),” he said.
At about noontime, Valmocina said Locsin’s camp finally informed the crowd that that they can only cater to around 300 persons.
“Nung alas dose na talagang galit na galit na ang tao, tinanong ulit sila ilan ho ba talaga. Galit na ang tao, nagmumura na. Dikit dikit na at tsaka nila sinabi na 300 lang daw ang kaya nila. Eh alam naman nilang napakaaga pa, libo-libo na ang tao. Wala ba silang common sense man lang (At 12 noon when people were already impatient and mad, we asked them again how many they can accommodate. They told us they can only cater to 300 persons. The crowd was already in thousands early morning. Don’t they have common sense)?” an irate Valmocina said.
Valmocina said he already sought the advice of lawyers on what steps to take next.
He will also take up the matter with Mayor Joy Belmonte and other village officials.
“Nag-meeting kami ngayon ng mga kagawad ko at sina-summarize namin lahat ng nangyari. Titingnan namin kung ano yung mga nalabag niya, ano 'yung mga dapat namin gawin, kung kinakailangang magdemanda, di magdedemanda (We are having a meeting right now and we are summarizing what happened. We will look into what violations they committed and what should we do about it. If we need to file charges, then we will),” he added.
The Quezon City government earlier said it was not informed about Locsin’s pantry.
In a statement, 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.
Valmocina lamented that their hands are tied on whether to allow community pantries or not.
“Sa sitwasyon ngayon parang ang barangay, napaso, hindi ka pwedeng magsalita, magtanong sa kanila ngayon, lalo pa’t siya ay identified, kilala. Paano ka magtatanong ngayon, ano ba ang gusto mong gawin, eh di ang sasabihin bakit nyo kami iniimbestigahan (It seems that we cannot talk, we cannot ask them questions, especially since she is a personality. If we ask them, they might accuse us of investigating them),” he said.
Officials, he added, get a beating from the media and are accused of abuse of power.
“Ang nakikita ko, natatakot, kinakabahan ang iba na manita ngayon dahil sa media pa lang, talo ka na. ‘Pag ikaw ‘yung nanita, sasabihin pino-profile mo sila. Kaya lahat nag-iisip ng ilang beses bago nila sitahin dahil baka masamain (From what I see, most officials are afraid. They do not want to ask because, from the media alone, you cannot defend yourself anymore, especially if you call the attention of somebody. They will say we are profiling them. That is why everybody is hesitant to ask because in the end, we are the ones who look bad),” Valmocina said.
After the incident, Valmocina vowed to be more strict.
“Magalit na ang magagalit pero kailangan busisiin ko, aalamin ko talaga at sistema ko ang masusunod, kami ang mamimigay niyan (I don’t care who gets mad but I need to know everything and they have to abide by my system. We will be the ones to distribute the goods) door to door,” he said. (PNA)