Amid allegations of red-tagging on organizers of community pantries, an official of the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) said even leftist groups could set up their own since the main purpose is to help the poor amid the crisis brought by the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.
But DILG Undersecretary and spokesperson Jonathan Malaya urged left-leaning organizations to just stick to the main purpose of helping instead of politicizing the act of kindness which is the real intention of the community pantries.
“Whatever they say during those community pantries are part of protected speech. We are a democratic society and people can say whatever they want,’’ Malaya said.
“However, we in the DILG (Department of the Interior and Local Government) would rather that people do not include politics in the community pantry. If the intention of Bayan Muna or all of these left-leaning groups is to help, just help,” he added.
Malaya stressed that adding political color to community pantries may reduce it to a propaganda action.
The DILG official noted that the department appeals to the public and organizers of the community pantry “to keep this initiative politically zero so that we do not further complicate (current health situation).’’
“We are already in a disaster and then we are ascribing politics to what should be selfless acts of kindness,’’ Malaya said.
Initiated by businesswoman Ana Patricia Non in Maginhawa St. in Quezon City, community pantries spread like wildfire in the country that exhibited the traditional “Bayanihan (cooperative act)’’ spirit and kindness of the Filipinos in the midst of the coronavirus disease-2019 (COVID-19).
Malaya also clarified that the DILG did not order profiling and surveillance activities to organizers of community pantry.
“In fact, we support the existence of these pantries. We offered the help of the Philippine National Police and barangays if needed so these community pantries may operate freely,” Malaya added.
On April 20, the Maginhawa Community Pantry temporarily stopped its operation due to alleged police profiling but was re-opened the following day after authorities assured that law enforcers will not bother them.