Angel Locsin, QC gov't vow support for family of man who died after queuing at a community pantry

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, April 23)— Actress Angel Locsin and the Quezon City government on Friday vowed to extend help to the family of a man who died while waiting in line at a crowded community pantry in Barangay Holy Spirit.

In a statement, Quezon City Mayor Joy Belmonte said the LGU will shoulder the burial expenses and hand out financial assistance to the family of the 67-year-old man, who police reported went to the pantry organized by Locsin.

An initial investigation showed the victim fainted Friday while waiting for his turn at the pantry. He was rushed to the hospital, but was declared dead on arrival, police said.

Belmonte said while officials will continue to support these kinds of initiatives, the incident "should serve as an important reminder" for pantry organizers to coordinate with barangay and LGU officials.

"Advanced coordination will allow all stakeholders to be proactive, rather than reactive," Belmonte said.

Locsin, for her part, apologized to the victim's relatives, and vowed to prioritize them.

"I will prioritize helping the family and I will make it my responsibility to help them get through this," Locsin wrote on her Instagram page. "I am very very sorry."

Lack of social distancing

The actress' community pantry which she rolled out on her birthday drew crowds eagerly waiting for their turn to receive goods from the viral initiative. Clips taken in the area showed lack of social distancing among the attendees.

Locsin acknowledged the lapses in health protocols, and admitted that even authorities had a hard time enforcing distancing rules.

"Hindi po ito ang gusto ko," Locsin said in a separate social media video. "Nagkataon lang po talaga na siguro gutom lang po talaga 'yung tao, na kahit wala po sa pila, sumingit na po sila."

"Sa mga nagambala ko po dito, pasensya na po, hindi po ito ang intensyon ko," she added.

[Translation: This was not what I wanted. Maybe it was just the people were hungry, that even if they weren't lined up, they jumped the queue. To all those affected by this, I'm sorry, this was not my intention.]

The Quezon City government held a meeting later in the day to discuss future guidelines for community pantries.

PNP asked to probe incident

Interior Secretary Eduardo Año meanwhile urged the Philippine National Police to investigate the incident.

"Since somebody died, the PNP has to conduct an investigation. We cannot ascertain yet who could be liable until the completion of the investigation," Año said in a statement.

He also advised organizers of community pantries to coordinate with local officials and the police to help in controlling crowds.