CHR slams 'shameful' red tagging, profiling of community pantry organizers

Jauhn Etienne Villaruel, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Apr 20 2021 05:39 PM

QCPD apologizes for "inadvertent post" regarding Non

CHR slams 'shameful' red tagging, profiling of community pantry organizers 1
The Maginhawa Community Pantry in Quezon City temporarily closes on April 20, 2021 after organizer Ana Patricia Non claimed through a Facebook post experiencing profiling efforts by the PNP and red-tagging of a number of community pantries by the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC). A posting indicates locations of nearby pantries for people hoping to avail of similar services amid the closure. Mark Demayo, ABS-CBN News

MANILA — The Commission on Human Rights (CHR) said Tuesday it was "concerned" that organizers of community pantries are reportedly being subjected to "surveillance" and "red tagging" despite their laudable initiative "at a time when Filipinos need it the most."

"It is thus concerning that this initiative, as well as the other community pantries that have followed, are under the threat of profiling and surveillance by local law enforcement authorities and are subject to red-tagging across various accounts in social media," CHR spokesperson Jacqueline de Guia said in a statement.

"The shameful and politicking actions of the few ideologically bent has dimmed the hopes of many that have come to see the community pantries as means of sustenance to provide food for themselves and their families," she added.

The statement was issued following Ana Patricia Non's decision to temporarily halt operations of the Maginhawa community pantry after supposedly being linked to the communist movement. 

"Notably, these government social media pages have shared graphics on their accounts linking the community pantry initiatives to the communist movement," the CHR noted.

The CHR urged law enforcers to exercise "prudent and lawful collection of data" after photos of police handing out forms that organizers need to fill out with their personal details went viral on social media. 

"In this context, we remind the government, particularly local law enforcement officers, that collecting data, including the affiliation of community pantry organizers, is an encroachment upon the right to privacy of citizens and represents yet again an overreach and abuse of police power bereft of any statutory or legal basis," De Guia said.

The National Privacy Commission, in a separate statement, also emphasized that private data collection must be done "fairly and lawfully" as it was made aware about "concerns over alleged profiling of organizers" of community pantries.

"Today, we call on again the attention of the PNP Data Protection Office to look into these reports and take appropriate measures to prevent any doings of its personnel on the ground that could potentially harm citizens and violate rights," Privacy Commissioner Raymund Liboro said.

In a statement, the Quezon City Police District (QCPD) addressed their Facebook post red tagging Non, saying it was done "inadvertently." 

"The QCPD expresses sincere apology particularly to the affected party for the inconvenience that the inadvertent post could have caused and reassured of her safety and protection. We are now reaching out with the organizer/outlet manager as the QCPD is very much willing to support the noble cause especially in this time of pandemic," they said.

Non set up the first community pantry in Maginhawa last week, and the concept was quickly picked up by several groups in other locations in the country