Senators to PNP: ‘Leave community pantries alone, stop profiling’

Published April 20, 2021, 4:48 PM

by Mario Casayuran

Eight senators on Tuesday, April 20, urged leaders of law enforcement to investigate the profiling and red-tagging of community pantries’ organizers in various parts of the country, and instead hold a dialogue with them.

(Senate of the Philippines / FILE PHOTO)

They were Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph Recto, Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon, and Senators Nancy Binay, Leila de Lima, Sherwin Gatchalian, Risa Hontiveros, Francis Pangilinan and Grace Poe.

The senators also condemned the posts of the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) on social media.

“The profiling of organizers must stop. It puts people’s lives in danger, knowing how notorious some police, military officers, and personnel are in red-tagging progressives and now civic-minded citizens who only want to do good for their fellow men and women,” they said.

In a related development, Senator Aquilino ‘’Koko’’  Pimentel III, a former Senate President, said that private initiatives such as  community pantry to help the public should be kept that way, ‘’private.’’

 ‘’Hence, minimum or no government involvement. The role of government is to remind people of health protocols, be on the sidelines ready to help maintain order, in case needed, and leave the community pantries alone,” he stressed

The senators stressed that “hunger is the problem and these relief efforts by private citizens should be encouraged.”

“The harassment and intimidation of those involved in these relief efforts exacerbate the hunger and hardships of our citizens. We condemn these acts,” they said.

“Hunger is the problem, which these relief efforts directly address. Imbes na pahirapan, pagbawalan, at ipasarado, tulungan na lang dapat ng PNP ang mga local government units (LGUs) na siguraduhing napapatupad ang minimum health protocols sa mga community pantries (Instead of making it difficult, stopping  and closing {the pantries}, PNP should help LGUs to enforce minimum health protocols),” they added.

In a social media post, Ana Patricia Non, the organizer of the pioneering Maginhawa Community Pantry, announced she is temporarily stopping the program after law enforcers sought her personal information such as contact number and memberships in organizations.

 Non said she fears for her life after the inquiry of the uniformed personnel.

On Monday, reports said that similar incidents were raised by community pantry organizers from other sites, about law enforcers demanding that they reveal their personal information and affiliation.

“These community pantries have offered a venue for showing the true bayanihan (community) spirit amid the hunger and poverty in this time of the pandemic. It is deplorable to paint this initiative with suspicions of communist links,” the senators said.

The senators support the call of Non’s family for a dialogue between the organizers of the community pantries and government authorities on this bayanihan initiative.

At the same time, the senators stood by all the organizers of community pantries nationwide and encouraged them to continue their efforts that demonstrate active citizenship and participation.

“We see you. We all know this is a community effort. We celebrate your energies and we stand with you all. We will always protect and uphold our fundamental rights, especially those toward a functioning and participative democracy,” they said.