Esperon: ‘We’d like to look into possible participation of personalities’ in community pantries
MANILA, Philippines — A top official of the country’s anti-insurgency task force said they were entirely supportive of community pantries but he said they were also looking into the organizers if they have established links with communist groups.
“We would like to encourage these community-based projects but of course we would like to look into possible participation of personalities that may have other agenda that may tend to turn these projects for political and agitation projects,” said National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-Elcac) vice-chairperson Hermogenes Esperon Jr., who is also the National Security Adviser.
In an online forum on Wednesday, he said they were checking if these organizers are involved with organizations “that would be traced to the legal fronts” of the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army.
Esperon stressed they were neither “investigating” nor “profiling” these organizers.
“We are just looking into it but investigating is already something else that you would call people and take statements…Hindi rin natin pino-profile ‘yan. We can observe it, we can get more observations and information about it,” he said.
On Tuesday, NTF-Elcac spokesperson Lt. Gen. Antonio Parlade Jr. said in a radio interview that they were 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.
“That’s being checked, their websites are being checked, they ask for donations from abroad,” Parlade said. “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.
He said the pantries could be prone to exploitation by leftist groups.
“Because there are sectors trying to exploit this situation,” said Parlade.
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