Maginhawa community pantry halts operations; organizer cites red-tagging

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Apr 20 2021 07:23 AM | Updated as of Apr 20 2021 09:38 AM

People line up to get their chance to pick up some food from the Maginhawa community pantry on Maginhawa street in Quezon City on April 16, 2021. The community project, started by Ana Patricia Non, encourages members of the community to get basic food items for those in need while urging those who can give to share in the stock. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News

MANILA (UPDATE)—Virginia Vinluan, a resident of Quezon City, on Tuesday said she refused to go home following the Maginhawa community pantry's temporary closure due to red-tagging.

"Hindi pa kami umuuwi kasi nagbabakasakali pa kami na baka maawa sila samin, baka bigyan kami pangsaing (na bigas) kasi wala na kami isasaing mamaya," Vinluan said.

(We won't go home yet, maybe they'll take pity on us and give us rice because we don't have anything to eat later.)

The National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) shared several posts on Facebook accusing community pantries of propaganda.

Ana Patricia Non, who began the movement last week, appealed to Quezon City Mayor Joy Belmonte for help as she said 3 police officers have asked for her contact number and to which organization she belonged.

"Natatakot po ako maglakad mag-isa papunta sa community pantry ng alas-5 ng umaga dahil po sa walang basehang paratang sa amin. Gusto ko lang po talaga makatulong at sana po ay huwag nyo masamain," she said in a Facebook post.

(I'm scared to walk by myself to the community pantry at 5 a.m. because of baseless accusations against us. I really just want to help, please don't take it the wrong way.)

"Malungkot po dahil hindi muna maipapamahagi ang goods na inihanda namin buong maghapon dahil po sa #RedTagging na nagaganap."

(It's sad that we can't distribute goods we prepared all day due to red tagging.)

Belmonte said she has contacted the QC Police District director to investigate the incident.

"I’ve also been in touch with QCPD to find out if this is true and to give me a report on the matter," she told ABS-CBN's Teleradyo.

The local government has helped Non in ensuring physical distancing in the community pantry, Belmonte said.

The city has provided COVID-19 cash assistance to 560,000 out of 840,000 families from the P2.48 billion budget the national government has allocated, she added.

Non said some community pantries have encountered problems with the police on Monday.

"Mabigat sa pakirandam ko kasi maganda po ang intentions ko noong binuo ko ang #CommunityPantry at ilang araw na din po na napakaraming pinagsisilbihan nito at ganun din po ang tulong na dumadating," she said.

(It saddens me because my intentions are good when I created the #CommunityPantry and it has served many people.)

"Sigurado po maraming tao po ang pipila sa amin bukas pero kailangan po muna nila maghintay sa susunod na araw bago po ito maipamahagi. Lalo na po at nagkaproblema kanina ang ibang Community Pantry sa mga kapulisan."

(For sure, there will be a long line tomorrow but they would need to wait before we distribute our goods, after community pantries earlier encountered problems with the police.)

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Elena de Chavez, a resident who lined up early Tuesday for the community pantry, said if she could get rice and vegetables, her family would make it through the day.

"Kahapon po ako pumila ng hapon, wala po akong naabutan, mahaba po kasi ang pila," de Chavez said.

Another resident, Joselito Enciso, added: "Dapat nga sa oras na ito di pa kami lumalabas pero kailangang kailangan talaga, sa pangangailangan namin sa araw araw katulad namin walang hanapbuhay, dito na lang kami umaasa sa ayuda. Kung wala okay lang, maghihintay na lang kami kung kelan sila aano samin."

(We should not even be outside this early but we really have to get our daily needs, especially for those of us who are jobless. We rely on assistance. If there's none, it's OK. We'll wait when they will next hand out goods.)

Several senators earlier commended the public for opening community pantries for poor Filipinos, saying the people have no choice but to rely on themselves because of perceived inefficiencies and lapses by the national government.

Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles also thanked the initiators of community pantries and sought unity.

"We welcome any help and support na maibibigay ng sambayanng Pilipino. Kailangan natin magtulungan dito, that’s the bottomline," he told ANC's "Headstart."

(We welcome any help and support that the Filipino people can give. We need to help each other, that's the bottomline.)

--With reports from Jervis Manahan, ABS-CBN News