The National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) is looking into the possibility that there are personalities connected with the communist rebels who are behind the setting up of various community pantries in the country, a top security official said on Wednesday, April 21.
National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon Jr., vice chairman of the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC), said they “support” and would even contribute to community pantries that are now sprouting across the country to help those who are in need amid the pandemic.
“We, of course, encourage community works and community bayanihan projects but we also look into organizers especially if they advertise their organizations that would be traced to the legal fronts or front organizations of the CPP-NPA,” he said in a virtual Kapihan sa Manila Bay forum Wednesday, April 21.
Esperon confirmed he received information that some personalities were associating the existence of community pantries to the lack of government’s support to the public amid the previous enforcement of lockdowns, forcing many people into hunger.
Prior to this, NTF-ELCAC spokesperson Lt. Gen. Antonio Parlade Jr. said they were conducting a background check on the organizers of the community pantries. He, however, did not specify the individuals they were “checking.”
“Nothing is conclusive yet but we would like to encourage these kinds of community based self-help projects but we of course would like to look into possible participation of personalities that may have another agenda, that may tend to turn these projects into some… for political and agitation purposes,” Esperon explained.
“That is all there is to it, otherwise, we encourage it. We would all even contribute to that,” he added.
The first community pantry established on Maginhawa Street in Quezon City was forced to stop its operations on Tuesday after its organizer, Ana Patricia Non, decried red-tagging.
In a Facebook post, she showed screenshots of social media posts made by the NTF-ELCAC and the Quezon City Police District (QCPD) accusing the community pantry initiative of being linked to the CPP-NPA.
The critics of the community bayanihan initiative claimed in their narrative that the organizers were painting a bad light on the government’s lack of support to the people, thus, encouraging the public to cultivate hate against government officials.
But Non has clarified that she only started the community pantry movement with all the “good intentions in mind” and to help the people in her community get by everyday through an open pantry where they could get food and other basic necessities for free.
Donations from well-meaning individuals, on the other hand, keep the pantry sustainable.
She also denied being a part of any communist group or front organization of the CPP-NPA.