Maginhawa community pantry temporarily shut down amid red-tagging

The woman behind the first community pantry in Maginhawa, Quezon City temporarily shut down the program on Tuesday, April 20, due to red-tagging by the QC Police District and the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC).

On social media, Ana Patricia Non posted screenshots of Facebook posts by QCPD and NTF-ELCAC which claimed without evidence that the makeshift pantries are being used by communist groups for their propaganda.

Pause po muna ang Maginhawa Community Pantry para sa safety po namin ng mga volunteers. Malungkot po dahil hindi muna maipapamahagi ang goods na inihanda namin buong maghapon dahil po sa red-tagging na nagaganap,” Non said on Tuesday.

(We’ll temporarily shut down our operations for the safety of our volunteers. This is disheartening because we will be unable to distribute the goods that we prepared the whole day due to red-tagging.)

Non also made a public appeal to QC Mayor Joy Belmonte to help her.

Humihingi din po ako ng tulong kay Mayor Joy Belmonte tungkol sa usapin na ito. Lalo na po ay hiningi po ng tatlong pulis ang number ko at tinatanong po kung anong organisasyon [ako kabilang],” she said.

(I am asking for Mayor Joy Belmonte’s help on this issue. Three police officers have even asked for my number and the organization I belong to.)

In a text message to Rappler on Tuesday, Belmonte said she has spoken to Non, and has tasked the QCPD to look into the matter.

“We have been in touch with each other already, and I have also spoken to QCPD District Director Tony Yarra and asked him to investigate the alleged incident of the police officers asking what organization she belongs to. He has yet to send me a report,” Belmonte said.

On Monday, the Department of the Interior and Local Government said it “sees community pantries as a reflection of the ‘bayanihan’ (cooperation) spirit,” but when pressed further, it stopped short of condemning efforts by some individuals to subject the pantries to red-tagging.

“Our statement speaks for itself. [A reflection of the bayanihan spirit] is how we see the community pantry,” Malaya said.

Non, the first person to start a makeshift pantry in Maginhawa on April 14, said she launched the project due to the government’s mishandling of the pandemic.

Pagod na ako sa inaction (I’m tired of inaction),” she told Rappler on April 17.

Malacañang on April 19 refused to see the rise of community pantries as indication of the government’s failure to provide the public with sufficient supplemental aid to get through the pandemic.

Presidential Spokesman Harry Roque however admitted that distribution of supplemental aid available is slow due to the nature of the pandemic and health protocols. – Rappler.com

Watch the press conference held by the organizers: