No legal duty for community pantry organizers to fill out forms — Justice chief
MANILA, Philippines — Organizers of community pantries have no legal duty to fill out any forms, Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra said Tuesday.
On Monday, photos of policemen at a Manila community pantry circulated on social media. The policemen reportedly required the organizers to fill out forms for background checking.
Then, on Tuesday morning, organizers of the Maginhawa community pantry announced that they will temporarily close shop after they were “red-tagged,” or accused of having communist links.
The Maginhawa community pantry initiative has created a ripple effect with almost a hundred community pantries being put up all over the country to help those grappling with the pandemic.
“These are not considered business, much less illegal activities,” Guevarra said, adding that the presence of lawyers is unnecessary.
Guevarra refused to comment if the acts of the police officers requiring organizers to fill out forms a violation of the right to privacy as a case may come before the Department of Justice.
But he said: “Suffice it to say that a person voluntarily doing an act of kindness and compassion towards his neighbor should be left alone. It is not proper for law enforcement agents to interrogate him unless there is reason to believe that he is violating any law, ordinance, rule or regulation for the good or welfare of the community.”
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