PNP orders probe into police's red-tagging of community pantries

The Philippine National Police (PNP) has ordered an investigation into the red-tagging of community pantries by some police units. 

PNP spokesperson Brigadier General Ronaldo Olay said PNP chief Police General Debold Sinas had already ordered the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) and the police regional offices to probe the red-tagging in their respective units. 

"Basta ito ang kautusan ng mahal nating hepe: No profiling, no red-tagging. At ipinag-utos niya kanina, nag-usap kami kanina na imbestigahan ng CIDG at 'yung mga PROs 'yung mga alleged red-tagging na 'yan. Imbestigahan nila 'yung sarili nilang tauhan," Olay said during a press briefing on Wednesday, April 21. 

(This is our chief's order: No profiling, no red-tagging. He also ordered the CIDG and PROs to investigate the alleged red-tagging. They should investigate their own personnel.)

When asked about the red-tagging activities of the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC), Olay said he was not in the position to comment.

"I can only speak for the Philippine National Police. Kung anuman ang activities ng [NTF-ELCAC] ay wala akong concern doon, 'no? (Whatever NTF-ELCAC's activities are, I am not concerned about those, right?)" Olay responded. 

On Tuesday, April 20, NTF-ELCAC spokesperson Lieutenant General Antonio Parlade admitted they had profiled the organizers of community pantries in the country.

Ana Patricia Non on April 14 started the Maginhawa Community Pantry initiative, which has inspired similar efforts in other parts of the country. But a few days after, Non suspended their operations due to safety concerns after the Quezon City Police District and the NTF-ELCAC red-tagged them on social media.

On Wednesday, Olay said the police will also investigate local police units that shared social media posts red-tagging the pantries. 

"Ang ating cybercrime group ay iimbestigahan din ang malisyosong pagkakalat ng text na ito at saka 'yung sa social media (Our Anti-Cybercrime Group will also investigate the spread of malicious content posted on social media)," the police spokesperson added.

No harm intended

Aside from the red-tagging, organizers of community pantries had also called out the profiling and presence of police near their pantries. 

But the police clarified they were only collecting information for future activities. 

"Ang sabi ng district director ay kinukuha nila 'yung nga detalye na ganyan para sa sunod na aktibidades ng kapulisan ay maaari namin silang isama. Mayroon na kaming organization, alam na namin kung sino ang katuwang namin sa ganyang bagay," Olay explained. 

(The district director said that they were asking for the details so that the next time the police will have an activity, they would know who to invite. We already have an organization, we already know who will be our co-organizers in things like that.)

"There is no harm sa presence ng kapulisan doon. Ay sabi ko nga kanina to ensure compliance to minimum health standards," Olay added. 

(There is no harm in having police presence there. As I said earlier, it was to ensure compliance to minimum health standards.)

The National Union of Peoples' Lawyers earlier reminded the public that they have no obligation to follow the orders of the police during alleged profiling. – Rappler.com