Community pantries

Pandacan community pantry in Manila shuts down due to red-tagging fears

Dwight de Leon
Pandacan community pantry in Manila shuts down due to red-tagging fears

COMMUNITY PANTRY. A photo of the Pandacan community pantry in Manila on April 18, 2021, a day before police came to get the personal information of its organizer and volunteers.

Courtesy of Marikit Arellano

Manila Mayor Isko Moreno says organizers of the Pandacan community pantry can resume their operations 'anytime' and reiterates that 'they have the support of the city government'

The Pandacan community pantry in Manila has ceased operations due to red-tagging fears, its organizer said on Thursday, April 22.

Pandacan community pantry organizer Marikit Arellano made the announcement in a public post on the Community Pantry PH Facebook page on Thursday.

Napagdesisyunan na po namin na itigil ang community pantry sa aming area sa Pandacan dahil nababahala po ang aking pamilya na baka ma-redtag kami (We decided to shut down the community pantry in Pandacan because my family is worried that we might get red-tagged),” Arellano said.

She said her fears stemmed from an incident on Monday, April 19, when police arrived at the pantry site and asked them to fill up forms asking for their personal information.

Kahit po alam ko na pwede kaming tumanggi, baka po kasi paghinalaan po kami ng kung ano ng mga pulis kapag tumanggi kaming i-fill out. Para hindi na rin po magkaroon  ng komosyon kaya finill-upan po namin.  (Even though I know I can refuse, the police might suspect me of something if I refuse to fill it up. To avoid any commotion, we decided to fill up the forms),” Arrelano said.

She noted that the incident happened a day before Manila Mayor Isko Moreno assured community pantry organizers in his city that they are free to carry out their operations without any permits.

Arellano said despite Moreno’s statement, they remain worried about their safety since they had filled up the forms with their personal information which are now in the possession of police.

Ako po ay hindi mapanatag dahil hindi ko po alam ano pwede mangyari doon sa form na finill-upan namin (I’m worried because I don’t know what could happen to the form that we filled up),” she added.

Moreno: City gov’t supports community pantries

Moreno said on Thursday, April 22, that Arellano’s concerns has reached him, and that she is free to pay him a visit in his office to air her grievances.

“They can resume anytime, they have the support of the city government,” Moreno said.

Moreno had said on Monday, April 20, that the Philippine capital embraces community pantries, and tht his city office would not require permits for organizers.

“Good deeds need no permit,” he earlier said.

On April 20, the Manila Police District denied that the forms were handed out to Arellano to profile her. The Philippine Star reported that according to the MPD, the forms are supposedly voluntary, and only meant to identify volunteers in the city.

The closure of the pantry in Pandacan happened two days after the original makeshift pantry along Maginhawa Street in Quezon City halted operations for a day due to red-tagging of the Quezon City Police District (QCPD) and the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC).

Its organizer Ana Patricia Non reopened the pantry on Wednesday, April 21, after Quezon City Mayor Joy Belmonte assured her of her safety.

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The Quezon City Police Disrict has also formally apologized over the matter, but the NTF-ELCAC has continued red-tagging Non online – even after Malacañang itself has lauded community pantries. – Rappler.com

Dwight de Leon

Dwight de Leon is a multimedia reporter who covers local government units and the Commission on Elections for Rappler.