Community pantries

First Cagayan de Oro community pantry stops operation due to red-tagging

Herbie Gomez

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First Cagayan de Oro community pantry stops operation due to red-tagging

HARASSMENT. The organizer of the first community pantry in Cagayan de Oro is linked to the communist insurgency in black propaganda leaflets circulated in the city.

Photo courtesy of Saligan sa CSSP Facebook page

Cagayan de Oro City Mayor Oscar Moreno lambasts the red-tagging, calling it unjust

Organizers of the first community pantry in Cagayan de Oro announced on Wednesday, April 21, their decision to stop their initiative due to harassment.

The pantry, organized by 22-year-old Rene Principe Jr, was on its third day of helping the needy in Sitio Pasil, Barangay Kauswagan, when the decision was made.

At least 4 other community pantries were set up in the city a day after Principe opened his on Monday, April 19. The Catholic archdiocese of Cagayan de Oro would set up its pantry on Thursday, April 22.

“Unfortunately, due to some red-tagging and harassment incidents, we are closing our pantry indefinitely,” read an announcement posted on the Facebook page of Kauswagan Community Pantry. 

“The remaining funds will be reallocated to other community pantry intiatives. Thank you to all the kind hearts who keep sending help and support. Please support the rest of the community pantry intiviatives.”

Principe, a University of the Philippines (UP) physics instructor, was the main target of attacks in anti-communist leaflets circulated in the barangay and sent to organizers, and by trolls on social media.


Cagayan de Oro City Mayor Oscar Moreno lambasted the red-tagging, calling it unjust.

Moreno said that there is nothing wrong with community pantries as they show communities helping each and showing generosity.

“Legally speaking, the law on penalizing communists was repealed, it needs an overt act which constitutes a crime before you can be brought before the court to answer for such an overt act,” Moreno said.


Lawyer Ernesto Neri called on city hall and barangay officials to protect organizers of community pantries in the city.

Neri said the Kauswagan community pantry was not spared from harassment, red-tagging, and intimidation. 

Neri said, “This morning, the pantry was suspended after posters containing the images of the volunteers circulated in the area.”

He said the posters – showing grabbed photos of volunteers with arrows pointing to them as members of the Communist Party and supporters of the armed struggle – were too familiar. 

Neri also said an “army of trolls” likewise flooded advocacy pages at the same time.

“This harassment should stop,” said Neri. “It is not a crime to organize communities to help the vulnerable and the poor.”

He added, “The only crime committed here is the consistent harassment, intimidation, and red-tagging by those who have the logistics, resources, and the time, as emboldened by their perverse sense of duty.” – with a report from Bobby Lagsa/

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Herbie Gomez

Herbie Salvosa Gomez is coordinator of Rappler’s bureau in Mindanao, where he has practiced journalism for over three decades. He writes a column called “Pastilan,” after a familiar expression in Cagayan de Oro, tackling issues in the Southern Philippines.