The National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) encouraged an organizer of the community pantry Saturday, May 15, to lodge a formal complaint before the Philippine National Police (PNP) if she experiences harassment.
Undersecretary Joel Egco, NTF-ELCAC spokesperson for media engagements, said harassed community pantry organizers should not go to the New People’s Army (NPA) for help “since the government has existing mechanisms” that they can access if they want to seek for assistance.
He made the remark after Ana Patricia Non, the proponent of the community pantry movement in Maginhawa, Quezon City, bared on Tuesday that she has started receiving death and rape threats after being red-tagged by NTF-ELCAC spokespersons.
“I think in-encourage na siya ni Chief PNP [Guillermo] Eleazar and other PNP officials to bring before the PNP kung may complaints or threats (I think she was encouraged by Chief PNP Eleazar and other PNP officials to bring before the PNP if she has complaints or threats),” Egco, also the executive director of the Presidential Task Force on Media Security, told the Manila Bulletin.
“‘Yun naman ang dapat (This is what should be done). We have all the existing mechanisms that they should access. Nandito naman ang gobyerno. Ano ba ang gusto nilang palabasin? Na wala kaming ginagawa? Ganoon naman lagi ang linya eh. Sino ang lalapitan mo? Mga NPA? Hindi naman ganoon (The government is here. What do they want to show to the public? That we are not doing anything? They usually say that line. Then who will you go to? The NPA? That’s not right),” he added.
Non grabbed headlines last month after she spearheaded a food bank initiative on Maginhawa Street in Quezon City to provide free supplies to those affected by the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.
Her single act of kindness immediately went viral and was copied by other well-meaning individuals across the country, and even in Timor Leste.
But Lt. Gen. Antonio Parlade Jr., NTF-ELCAC spokesperson for security sector operations, drew a Biblical comparison of Non’s community pantry initiative to Satan’s giving of an apple to Eve.
In one instance, Non said she had to stop the operations of the Maginhawa community pantry because some policemen started questioning them at their pantry. Last Tuesday, she said she even received death and rape threats.
But Egco insisted that the NTF-ELCAC has not engaged in red-tagging.
“Sinabi na ng PNP leadership na walang order even [Department of the Interior and Local Government] Sec. [Eduardo] Ano na walang order. Bakit pinipilit na may order o direktiba na i-profile o i-redtag? Ayaw nga namin gamitin ‘yung salitang red-tagging (The PNP leadership and Sec. Ano said that there is no order [to profile or red-tag]. Why are they insisting that there is an order or directive to profile or red-tag them? We don’t even want to use the word ‘red-tagging,'” he said.
Nonetheless, Egco praised Non for spearheading the community pantry movement but he noted that she should refrain from branding the government as “useless” and “doing nothing” amid the COVID-19 pandemic.