The community pantry, which was initiated and eventually sprouted across the country to help poor people who lost their jobs and livelihood due to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, could be used as a platform to encourage the people to revolt against the government.
This is how Lt. Gen. Antonio Parlade apparently viewed the community pantry initiative as he confirmed that the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) is indeed conducting a background check on its organizers.
“We are just checking [their] background. Yes, we are checking them,” Parlade said in a radio interview over dzBB on Tuesday, April 20.
Parlade, who is also a military commander in Southern Luzon, said they are wary that some communist leaders could exploit the community pantry initiative and influence the participants to revolt against the government.
“Habang nandoon sila sa community, mayroon silang propaganda na ginagawa. May sinasabi silang gutom ang mga tao dahil sa kapalpakan ng gobyerno, kung anu-ano pa (While they are in the community, they are spreading a propaganda. They are saying the people are hungry because of the failure of the government, and many others),” Parlade said.
On Tuesday, Ana Patricia Non, organizer of the Maginhawa community pantry in Quezon City, announced that the operation of the community pantry was suspended due to alleged red-tagging by government forces.
The Maginhawa community pantry, which was already imitated across the country, aims to provide basic necessities such as food, water, medicines and hygiene kit to the needy. Those who want to donate are also welcomed.
Non posted screenshots of social media posts by the NTF-ELCAC, Quezon City Police District, and other individuals alleging that the community pantry initiative was linked to front organizations of the Communist Party of the Philippines and New People’s Army (CPP-NPA).
Despite Parlade’s reasoning, the NTF-ELCAC has yet to provide a proof that organizers of the community pantry are indeed engaged in spreading propaganda for the CPP-NPA