As non-essential economic activity has come to a standstill due to the outbreak of COVID 19, people working in the informal sector, indigenous peoples, of which many are forest-based, have been consistently unable to afford enough food.
As a way of reaching out to the vulnerable peoples and communities that host Metro Manila’s critical source of supply, MWSS has embarked on several outreach operations in Rizal, Bulacan and Quezon Province during the Enhanced Community Quarantine months.
This June, MWSS has provided relief goods to the Dumagats and their non-indigenous counterparts that comprise the Bantay Gubat Rangers (BGR) of Ipo Watershed. Their livelihood and quality life have been affected due to mobility and economic restrictions as they perform their part in preventing illegal activities that degrade forest cover and damage the trees in the reforestation areas.
The health crisis has brought fresh consciousness and interdependence amongst MWSS and its partners. There were no formal groups created to do the outreach operations, but well-meaning officials and employees from MWSS and its Concessionaires, those who wanted to help but can’t be there under the circumstances, had in the end, made the relief efforts possible. Through volunteerism, some collaborated and planned, some initiated fund-raising activities, some handled logistics, finance, security, and transport, and some repacked and distributed the goods. All contributed their skills and took the extra steps to overcome the obstacles to alleviate the food insecurity that vulnerable people experience due to the pandemic.
For MWSS, it is not just a social responsibility, but more of a moral obligation to reach out and connect with the forest rangers to let them feel that they are valued.