DILG probes ‘police profiling’ of Maginhawa community pantry organizer
MANILA, Philippines — The Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) is investigating the alleged profiling of the organizer of the Maginhawa community pantry by the police, as it looks into the angle that the alleged profiling could just be propaganda by some groups to discredit the government.
DILG Undersecretary and spokesperson Jonathan Malaya said authorities are trying to find out what really happened along Maginhawa Street in Quezon City after community pantry organizer Ana Patricia Non alleged that three police officers asked for her phone number and organization membership.
Malaya noted that there was no video or photo of the police officers who allegedly went to the community pantry along Maginhawa
“We are trying to find out, are these police officers in uniform? If they were in uniform what were their names? What station did they come from? Because anyone can pose to be a police officer and do alleged profiling. We do not know,” he told ABS-CBN News Channel.
“In this age of fake news and disinformation, this could have been propaganda done by some groups out to discredit the government. We are investigating, we are trying to find out. We would like evidence to come out so that we can act accordingly,” he added.
On Tuesday, Interior Secretary Eduardo Año said he has not ordered the Philippine National Police (PNP) to look into community pantries that are now sprouting in different parts of the country.
PNP chief Gen. Debold Sinas likewise denied issuing orders to profile organizers of community pantries, which have been hailed as an act of “Bayanihan” amid the ills brought by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Malaya said the DILG is initiating measures to ensure that there will be no harassment against organizers of such pantries.
“We are taking steps to ensure that there will be no harassment or intimidation, and we are establishing if indeed there was harassment and intimidation in so far as the Maginhawa incident is concerned,” he added.
He also encouraged organizers to relay to the DILG any incident of intimidation supposedly done by police officers against them.
“My guarantee to everyone is that if there is indeed an act of intimidation or harassment against any community pantry in the country, give us the evidence, bring it to us, bring it to my office and we will have these investigated,” Malaya said.
“All of those people who are part of the DILG or PNP who would be proven to have done this thing, which is an illegal act, we will have them prosecuted,” he added.
Meanwhile, Malaya also pointed out that anyone, even left-leaning groups, can set up community pantries. He said that “whatever they say in those community pantries if they put on signs, are part of protected speech.”
“However, we in the DILG would rather that people do not include politics in the community pantry. If the intention of Bayan Muna and all of these left-wing groups is to help, then just help. If you put political color into it, it reduces it into a propaganda action,” he added.
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