Over the last few days, those who aren’t able to afford food for their daily consumption have had the chance to eat and feed their family at least once a day. This is thanks to the viral ‘community pantry’ started first by Patricia Non in Maginhawa Street in Quezon City, and has since spread throughout different provinces and cities around the country.
Netizens, farmers, fisherfolk, and many others have lent a hand and donated various food items and necessities to these free-for-all pantries for public (especially the poor’s) consumption. (Read: 3 Food Items You Can Donate to Your Local Community Pantry)
However, the initiative has to be put on hold following several posts on social media— some of which are from the Philippine National Police (PNP) themselves.
Organizers, Volunteers Red-Tagged
The concerning posts were that of people red-tagging the organizer and volunteers of the various community pantries nationwide. They have been claiming that the community initiative is a ploy from the New People’s Army (NPA) and Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP), who are both tagged as communist terrorist groups by the government.
Due to these assumptions, the organizer of the Maginhawa Community Pantry decided to postpone holding the program today, April 20. This is to ensure the safety of all organizers and volunteers (donators, tricycle drivers, etc.) until the issue is cleared.
As a result, those who fell in line as early as 7 am had to go home empty-handed because of the red-tagging. (Read: Catholic Bishops, Schools Raise Concerns About Red-Tagging)
The public was quick to react to the issue, and called out the people behind the posts, as these affected not only the volunteers of the community pantry, but also those who looked forward to having something on the table today.
“Tumutulong sa kapwa, akala na naman anti-gobyerno,” said a commenter on GMA News’s video of the dispersal of the crowd at Maginhawa. (Read: UP Officials, VP Robredo Denounce Termination of UP-DND Accord)
Another netizen said that she can’t imagine how the organizer feels about being red-tagged, and having to send home the poor empty-handed.
“She is just trying to help cover inadequacies of this unbelievable government. Others would have the nerve to say these volunteers are ‘epal‘ too!” she said.
Senator Binay Weighs In
Even Senator Nancy Binay reacted to the red-tagging of Patricia Non, and the postponement of the Maginhawa Community Pantry. (Read: Timeline: What Prompted Duterte’s Threat to Stop Facebook PH?)
“Ganyan na ba ka-paranoid na pati ang pagtulong sa kapwa ay minamasama? Anong ambag n’yo?,” the senator said.
She also questioned why some people, including the police, felt the need to red-tag Patricia and the initiative she began. “Di na ba pwedeng tumulong sa kapwa? Di na ba pwedeng magsalita ng iyong saloobin?”
PNP Chief Debold Sinas, who just recovered from COVID-19 recently, said that there is no standing order for the profiling of Patricia Non or any of the Community Pantry’s volunteers.
In a statement, he said that “it is beyond the interest of the PNP to delve into purely voluntary personal activities of private citizens.” He added that the police even extended their assistance to ensure safe and secure distribution of goods.