Red-tagging and police harassment has forced the phenomenal Maginhawa Community Pantry to suspend operations, one of its initiators announced late Monday evening.
“Bad news. The #MaginhawaCommunityPantry is temporarily taking a pause for the safety of its volunteers. This is sad as we will not be able to distribute the goods we prepared all day because of the #RedTagging that is happening,” Anna Patricia Non said on her Facebook account.
Non said she was sure there would be more poor people who are expected to line up on Tuesday morning but the pantry’s operations would have to wait, more so that other pantries were also having problems with the police.
As of seven o’clock Tuesday morning, intended beneficiaries who started lining up at three o’clock, were walking home to nearby Barangay Krus na Ligas with empty bags.
Non’s community pantry initiative at Barangay Teachers’ Village East spread like wildfire throughout Luzon with at least 300 similar efforts from as far north as Ilagan City in Isabela, as far south as Legazpi City in Albay and as remotely as Odiongan in Romblon.
Other community pantries are also being planned in the Visayas.
Non revealed that three police officers have demanded to be given her phone number and have interrogated her as to her affiliations.
“I am afraid to walk to the community pantry alone at five o’clock in the morning because of the baseless accusations against us,” Non said.
The police have started visiting community pantries in Quezon City and Manila on Monday afternoon, asking its organizers to fill up forms and interrogating the organizers.
Both the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict and the Quezon City Police District of the Philippine National Police also shared a post by the Facebook page called Peace Philippines alleging the community pantries were organized to recruit and gather funds for the communist New People’s Army.
The move earned swift and wide condemnation on social media.
Bayan Muna Representative Ferdinand Gaite also slammed the police’s operations against the pantries, saying these were unnecessarily causing anxiety to the organizers.
“Have you no decency? Why are you intimidating those who only wish to help?” Gaite asked. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)