The Ateneo Human Rights Center (AHRC) has rallied behind the setting up of more community pantries amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.
In a statement, AHRC said community pantry organizers and volunteers should be “commended, supported, and encouraged.”
“[The] spirit of bayanihan must be replicated, as they addressed the most basic need of the vulnerable to survive, even if only means one day at a time,” the organization said Tuesday, April 20.
The AHRC also expressed concern over the reported red-tagging and the violation of privacy rights of people behind the community pantries.
“Reports and documented incidents have shown how law enforcers approached the community pantry organizers and volunteers seeking for their personal information, and for undisclosed or dubious reasons,” it added.
Citing the Data Privacy Act of 2012, AHRC stressed that “personal information must be collected for a specified and legitimate purpose,” which must be declared before or as soon after collection.
“Information must also be processed fairly and lawfully. The law enforcers themselves must be at the forefront of implementing this law; not the ones blatantly trampling on it. Doing otherwise is a blatant violation of the right to privacy of the persons concerned,” it said.
“Just like the setting up of these community pantries is part of our freedom of expression, any statement that may come together with these pantries, political or otherwise, is likewise protected. In fact, the bayanihan spirit of these community pantries is a political statement itself of how in dire need our fellow Filipinos are. And we admonish any curtailment of such statement.”
The AHRC also reminded the public that information is protected by privacy laws and permits are not needed for community pantries.
If approached by law enforcers and asked for personal information, AHRC also advised organizers and volunteers to take note of the following:
- Ask for the identity of the police officer/s involved and take picture of the identification card presented;
- Ask for the reasons for data collection and for what purpose it will be used;
- Decline to give your personal details if you are not comfortable;
- Document what happened and take photos, if possible.
- Report the incident to the Commission on Human Rights, media and local government units, (barangay and municipality/city).