Parlade: ‘We’re just checking background’ of people behind community pantries
MANILA, Philippines — Lt. Gen. Antonio Parlade Jr., spokesperson of a counterinsurgency task force that had been given a P19 billion budget for 2021, on Tuesday (April 20) admitted that the task force was “checking the background” of those behind the highly-popular community pantries that mushroomed nearly nationwide to provide free food to people who are struggling to put food on the table during the pandemic.
Parlade, spokesperson of the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-Elcac), said leftist groups were exploiting the initiative of Good Samaritans and using it to advance their agenda.
“Because there are sectors trying to exploit this situation,” said Parlade, who had become controversial for red-tagging individuals who criticize the Duterte administration.
“Now, they’re riding on these beautiful programs of civil society groups of different sectors,” he said in an interview with radio station dzBB. “This is it. Because while they’re in the community pantries, they’re also engaged in propaganda,” said Parlade.
“They’re saying the people are going hungry because of the fault of the government,” he said. “They’re saying other things. That’s plenty. In fact, many of those are posted on social media,” he added.
Parlade said what the task force was doing was not red-tagging although he expressed suspicions about individuals or groups seeking funding from abroad which he said had been the practice of leftist groups in the past.
“So we’re just checking their background…That’s being checked, their websites are being checked, they ask for donations from abroad. Specifically, they’re asking for dollars, they post dollar accounts,” he said.
“And those they’re asking for support are not the community but the organizers, those who volunteer for the community pantry,” Parlade said.
“They’re riding on this and this is where they’re good,” he said. “The leftist groups, we have identified them in the past,” he said. “This is where they’re good in fund raising because their fund raising sources from Europe got cut because of our expose,” Parlade said.
The NTF-Elcac had reached out to the European Union and identified groups supposedly serving as communist fronts to get their funding sources cut.
Philippine National Police chief Gen. Debold Sinas said he did not issue an order to profile those behind the community pantries.
Ana Patricia Non, who started the community pantry fever in her Maginhawa community in Quezon City, had paused operations but vowed to continue despite efforts to brand her charity work as communist-inspired.