PNP launches own community pantries
MANILA, Philippines — After reports of community pantry organizers being harassed and threatened, the Philippine National Police (PNP) came up with its own version of food aid stations for people coping with the pandemic.
PNP chief Lt. Gen. Guillermo Eleazar on Friday led the opening of the “Barangayanihan” Help and Food Bank at Camp Crame. Similar initiatives were launched at police regional offices nationwide.
At Crame, truckloads of donations poured in—from sacks of rice, food packs to face shields—from various PNP units, national and local government agencies, and private organizations and individuals.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has tested the true character and unveiled who we truly are as Filipinos,” Eleazar said in a speech, calling on the entire PNP to support.
In a separate statement, the PNP said the project was just a continuation of its past community-building efforts, such as the Food Bank, Adopt-a-Family Program, and other services such as street cleaning and relief operations during calamities.
Last month, Eleazar’s predecessor, retired Police Gen. Debold Sinas, cited the PNP Food Bank project as a prime example. Launched last year, it mainly serves both as a collection and distribution point of donated goods for indigent or disaster-stricken families.
But longtime PNP critics regarded Eleazar’s new project and past PNP endeavors with suspicion.
The militant peasant group Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas said “[This] shows the PNP’s desperation to ‘copycat’ community pantries by launching its own community ‘lugawan’ (porridge kitchens) to advance their selfish interests of salvaging the PNP’s tarnished image and reputation.”
Supporters of community pantry organizers also denounced their harassment and profiling by the police.
Even Ana Patricia Non, the 26-year-old who started the community pantry movement in Quezon City, had been Red-tagged and faces death and rape threats.
But Eleazar said the PNP would ensure the safety of Non and her family and investigate the threats against her.
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