House of Representatives

House probe called vs red-tagging of community pantries

Rambo Talabong

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House probe called vs red-tagging of community pantries

'BAYANIHAN.' San Vicente de Paul Parish and the Adamson University open their community pantry along San Marcelo Street in Ermita, Manila, on Wednesday, April 21, 2021.

Rappler photo

Makabayan lawmakers urge the House of Representatives to probe the red-tagging and harassment of community pantry organizers

The Makabayan bloc of lawmakers at the House of Representatives called for a probe into government agencies and officials accused of harassing and red-tagging organizers of community pantries.

“Now, therefore be it resolved, that the House of Representatives, through the Committee on Human Rights, to conduct an investigation, in aid of legislation, on the alleged harassment, profiling and red-tagging of community pantry organizers,” the Makabayan lawmakers said in their resolution filed on Wednesday, April 21.

This comes after police red-tagged community pantries, linking these charity projects to the Communist Party of the Philippines and its armed wing, the New People’s Army.

On April 14, Patricia Non pioneered a program called the community pantry. In a nondescript sidewalk stall, people could donate, as well as, take food. The lone rule was to get only what you needed.

Stories about this spontaneous charity project went viral. Similar community pantries have since bloomed all over the country.

How the red-tagging happened

Peace Philippines, a youth led organization claiming to be advocating for peace on Facebook, tagged community pantries as a weapon of the communists to recruit members.

It also said that Tulong Kabataan, one of the organizations behind the initiative, is said to be a front of the Communist Party of the Philippines.

The pantry managed by Non ceased operations on Tuesday, April 20, following red-tagging posts by the QC Police District and the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC). It has reopened on Wednesday, April 21

There were also reports of profiling of other community pantry organizers. The Philippine National Police said there was no such order from its national headquarters.

Barriers to bayanihan

The lawmakers also pointed out that government officials have made the operations more difficult and dangerous for volunteers.

Department of the Interior and Local Government Undersecretary Martin Diño said on Tuesday that the pantries needed permits. Local chief executives denied the undersecretary’s claim.

The Makabayan lawmakers also cited Lieutenant General Antonio Parlade, the spokesman of the NTF-ELCAC, who admitted that his agency was checking the background of the operators of the pantries.

“The organizers and volunteers who initiate the delivery of aid to the less privilege, do not deserve to be subjected to harassment and baseless accusations from the government itself that failed to deliver such services to the Filipino people,” the Makabayan bloc said. –

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Rambo Talabong

Rambo Talabong covers the House of Representatives and local governments for Rappler. Prior to this, he covered security and crime. He was named Jaime V. Ongpin Fellow in 2019 for his reporting on President Rodrigo Duterte’s war on drugs. In 2021, he was selected as a journalism fellow by the Fellowships at Auschwitz for the Study of Professional Ethics.