‘Stop crucifying good Samaritans’: Solons hit red-tagging, profiling of community pantries
MANILA, Philippines — Several lawmakers in the House of Representatives slammed Tuesday the red-tagging and the alleged police profiling of organizers of several community pantries, saying the administration should admit their shortcomings amid the pandemic instead of targeting those who only wish to help.
Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman said that the Duterte administration “must stop crucifying the good Samaritans.”
“The Duterte administration must not compound its culpable inadequacy of rescuing the poor from the abyss of the pandemic by red-tagging and profiling the good Samaritans who have put up community pantries to help the poorest of the poor,” Lagman said in a statement.
“Instead of encouraging the healthy mushrooming nationwide of community pantries, police elements are harassing as enemies of the State the organizers and sponsors of these free food-for-the-poor outlets,” he added.
Furthermore, Lagman said that the government “must not conceal its shame for failing the disadvantaged and marginalized sectors by enforcing repressive measures against those who are voluntarily helping neglected Filipinos.”
Meanwhile, Magdalo Partylist Rep. Manuel Cabochan said acts of kindness do not equate to communism as he urged government authorities to be careful with their pronouncements.
“Instead of red-tagging the individual organizers of the community pantries, they should be recognized for their initiative to act and help – something that the administration has been failing on,” Cabochan said in a statement.
“Kailangan tanggapin at aminin ng administrasyon na malaki ang kanilang pagkukulang at talagang madami ang nagugutom. ‘Wag na sana nilang hadlangan ang mga taong nag-aambagan para mapunan ang pagkukulang ng pamahalaan,” he added.
Cabochan said the government must instead protect the spirit of “bayanihan”.
“The people embracing their civic responsibility should be encouraged, not stifled,” Cabochan said.
Lawmakers from the Makabayan Bloc in the House likewise hit the red-tagging of the organizers.
Bayan Muna Rep. Carlos Zarate said “state terror now does not spare even hunger and compassion” following the red-tagging and alleged police profiling of the community pantry organizers.
“This police profiling is not only shamelessly inhuman, but even violative of the right to privacy of the organizers, as well as the other basic human rights of our people,” Zarate said.
“Who are unChristian now? Sana bumalik naman sa inyo ang tumakas na ninyong sense of humanity and compassion,” he added.
Zarate said the profiling of community pantries have no basis, saying that the “draconian move” of the police should be investigated.
“Sa halip na tumulong sila para makabangon ang ating mga kababayang nagugutom dahil na din sa kapalpakan ng gobyerno ay tinatakot nyo pa ang mga tumutulong,” Zarate said.
Bayan Muna Reps. Eufemia Cullamat and Ferdinand Gaite also hit the red-tagging and police profiling.
On Monday night, Ana Patricia Non, organizer of the Maginhawa community pantry in Quezon City which recently made headlines for being able to help those affected by the lockdowns due to the pandemic, announced the pantry’s temporary closure over “red-tagging” on social media.
One of the screenshots included in Non’s Facebook post showed that the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict, which has been previously involved in redtagging controversies, shared posts saying that community pantries are being used for propaganda of communist groups.
Meanwhile, many netizens have also called out police officers allegedly profiling organizers of the community pantry projects in the city of Manila.
Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Debold Sinas has denied issuing orders for the police to profile organizers of community pantries.