PNP chief Eleazar insists no order for cops to profile community pantry organizers
MANILA, Philippines — Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Gen. Guillermo Eleazar on Thursday maintained there was never a directive for policemen to profile community pantry organizers.
This comes as Congress started its investigation into the issue, which had many individuals complaining and fearing for their safety.
Eleazar said no such order came from him and that Interior Secretary Eduardo Año’s instruction to protect community pantry organizers is very clear.
“Gusto ko po linawin na walang direktiba mula sa PNP National Headquarters o mula sa aking opisina na magsagawa ng anumang profiling sa kanila ang ating mga police personnel,” the PNP chief said in a statement.
“Base na rin sa direktiba ng ating SILG Eduardo Año, inatasan ko ang ating mga kapulisan na tulungan at protektahan ang mga community pantry organizers sa kanilang area of responsibility at tiyakin na nasusunod ang health protocols,” he added.
Community pantries mushroomed across the country as inspired by the pioneering Maginhawa Community Pantry set up by Ana Patricia Non in early April, as Metro Manila and its adjacent provinces returned to the strictest enhanced community quarantine or ECQ in late March due to a resurgence of COVID-19 cases.
In community pantries, organizers oversee a system where anyone can donate goods as anyone are also free to take anything they need from the pantry.
But as these community pantries aggressively multiply in various parts of the region, and eventually to provinces, organizers complained that some police officers allegedly tried to obtain sensitive and personal details from them –which scared them.
Recently, PNP Human Rights Affairs Office chief Brig. Gen. Vincent Calanoga apologized if pantry organizers felt that they were red-tagged or were being profiled.
Such an apology, Eleazar said, is laudable, and should be taken as an assurance that there is no bad intent in the police’s actions towards the community pantries.
“It takes real courage to apologize especially for men and women in uniform. There is honor in that at lalo lang akong pinahanga ng ating HRAO director sa kanyang ginawa,” Eleazar said.
“Ito ay isa lang patunay na walang masamang intensyon ang inyong PNP at ito rin ay magsisilbing mensahe sa lahat ng ating kapulisan na siguraduhin lang na nasusunod ang minimum health safety protocol sa community pantries at tumulong kung kinakailangan,” he added.
While the neighborhood pantries have been of big help for communities, concerns were raised on the safety of people that usually crowd these spots, which may cause transmission of the new coronavirus.
One infamous example was the “birthday pantry” set up by actress Angel Locsin, where social distancing was compromised.
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