Lawmakers on Tuesday denounced the reported red-tagging of some government officials against community pantry organizers including Ana Patricia Non– the figure behind the Maginhawa Street community pantry.
In a statement, Senator Nancy Binay stressed that private citizens who set up makeshift food banks such as Non should not be viewed as “enemies of the state” but “champions” who have genuine compassion for other people.
She pointed out that hunger is the real issue under the raging pandemic which the initiative aims to resolve.
“Are we not allowed to help others? Are we not allowed to voice out our opinions? When common people collectively band together to help those, who are in need; when volunteers offer a selfless act of serving the people; and when ordinary Filipinos put up community pantries as a pure form of generosity–I don’t see them as enemies of the state, but as champions who have genuine compassion for our people,” Binay said.
“My heart goes to Patreng (Ana Patricia Non), who has been maliciously red-tagged for having a heart for the poor. Are they (red-tagging officials) that paranoid that even helping others is being interpreted maliciously? Anong ambag n’yo?” she added.
The senator’s statement comes after the announcement of Non in a social media post that the community pantry in Maginhawa in Quezon City will be temporarily closed today, 20 April after the Quezon City Police District and National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict accused her of having communist links in separate Facebook posts.
Non reiterated that she started the project with good intentions, revealing that three policemen asked for her number and what organization she belongs to.
For his part, Senator Panfilo Lacson sees no correlation between community pantries and communism.
If there is a similarity between the two, Lacson said it is nothing but its first seven letters.
“The only similarity between community pantry and communism are the first seven letters. Aside from that I don’t see any semblance because these are purely humanitarian acts from some of our countrymen. Shouldn’t they be encouraged instead of being red-tagged?” he said during an interview in CNN Philippines.
He then slammed those who are red-tagging the organizers saying they should be encouraged and not be labelled as terrorist members.
“In the absence of solid proof of infiltration or intonation that there is a destabilization from community pantries, I think it is ill-advised deplorable even for police officers to suspect these people of engaging in destabilization,” he added.
“They (organizers) should not be discouraged and people in the community should rally behind them and they should be supported. As I said, they should be encouraged some more instead of stepping back because they are helping the community in their own little way,” he added.
The National Privacy Commission, meanwhile, issued a statement on the same day where it called out the Philippine National Police (PNP) for its alleged “unlawful profiling” of community pantry organizers.
It added that this is not the first time the police have done such an act and that the PNP Data Protection should look into these reports to prove its authenticity.
If proven, the NPC said that the PNP arm should take appropriate measures to prevent any wrongdoings of its personnel in the ground that can potentially harm civilians.
“The PNP’s leadership in the past has acted on unlawful profiling and recognized the importance of protecting the privacy of the citizenry in the performance of their duties,” the agency said.
“We would like to emphasize that collecting personal data must be done fairly and lawfully with respect to the right of a data subject, including the rights to be informed and object,” it added.
“In times of adversity, Filipinos have the ability to come together and do extraordinary deeds. We must continue these efforts to build trust within and across communities and this unprecedented health crisis,” it added.