The government should not aggravate its “culpable inadequacy” of responding to the needs of the poor amid the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic by red-tagging and profiling volunteers behind community pantries, Albay 1st District Representative Edcel Lagman on Tuesday, April 20, said.
“The Duterte administration must not compound its culpable inadequacy of rescuing the poor from the abyss of the pandemic by red-tagging and profiling the good Samaritans who have put up community pantries to help the poorest of the poor,” Lagman said in a statement.
“Instead of encouraging the healthy mushrooming nationwide of community pantries, police elements are harassing as enemies of the State the organizers and sponsors of these free food-for-the-poor outlets,” he lamented.
“The Duterte administration must stop crucifying the good Samaritans,” said Lagman.
“The government must not conceal its shame for failing the disadvantaged and marginalized sectors by enforcing repressive measures against those who are voluntarily helping neglected Filipinos,” he added.
At least two community pantries were forced to close their stalls on Tuesday after police inquired about their personal information and affiliation.
The national task force fighting rebel groups also started sharing social media posts linking the initiative to the communist insurgency.
Magdalo Party-List Rep. Manuel Cabochan III said such red-tagging activities government forces are “wrong”.
“Tila hindi pinag-isipang mabuti. ‘Yung acts of kindness, hindi communism ‘yun. Baka pwedeng maghinay-hinay at mag-isip muna ang mga otoridad bago nila sabihing gawaing komunista ang pagsisilbi at pagtulong sa komunidad at mga taong nangangailangan (Like they did not think of it carefully. An act of kindness is not communism. Maybe authorities think first before they tag as communist any service to the community and helping the needy),” Cabochan said in a separate statement.
Echoing Lagman, he said: “Instead of red-tagging the individual organizers of the community pantries, they should be recognized for their initiative to act and help — something that the administration has been failing on. Kailangan tanggapin at aminin ng administrasyon na malaki ang kanilang pagkukulang at talagang madami ang nagugutom (The administration should accept and admit their shortcomings and that many are going hungry).”
“We call on all like-minded citizens to organize and sustain community pantries nationwide and those who have the means to regularly donate food items, medicine, and clothing,” Lagman, meanwhile, appealed.