MANILA - The Makabayan bloc is seeking an inquiry into the alleged profiling and red-tagging of organizers of community pantries, which have popped up across the country as a response to hunger and unemployment amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
In a resolution filed Wednesday, a group of lawmakers urged the House Committee on Human Rights to conduct an investigation into the incident as organizers and volunteers of food pantries "were subjected to harassment and red-tagging by the Philippine National Police and the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict."
"We are calling the House leadership to support this because this has gone too much. Acts of kindness by ordinary people are now being vilified," Bayan Muna party-list Rep. Carlos Zarate told ANC.
"Instead of encouraging these kind of initiatives by our people in this time of crisis aggravated by this pandemic, ito pa ang napapala nila (this is what they get in return)," he added.
Zarate said linking the charitable activity to the communist movement would create a "chilling effect" on other similar efforts. He noted that those who had been red-tagged were either charged or killed.
"This is actually premeditated itong pag-label nila (Labeling them is actually premeditated). Apparently, to cover up sa nangyayari ngayon (of what's happening now). There is negligence form the national government in its response to pandemic. Nakikita na natutulog sa pansitan ang pamahalaan (The government is slacking off)," he said.
In the upper chamber of Congress, at least 2 senators are calling to defund the NTF-ELCAC after its spokesman likened the community pantry efforts to "Satan giving apple to Eve."
The P19-billion budget of NTF-ELCAC should be reallocated as COVID-19 aid, senators Joel Villanueva and Sherwin Gatchalian have said.
Lt. Gen. Antonio Parlade Jr., the task force's spokesperson, compared the charitable efforts to the Bible story on the fall of Man.
“Isang tao lang ‘yan ‘di ba? Si Ana, si Patricia. Same with Satan. Si Satan binigyan ng apple si Eve. Doon lang nagsimula ‘yon (She did it alone right? That Ana Patricia? [It’s the] same with Satan. Satan gave an apple to Eve. It started from there),” he was quoted as saying on One News.
In a separate interview Wednesday, Parlade denied they were profiling those behind the community pantries.
"We’re just checking kung ano ang ginagawa, anong situwasyon sa community pantries na ito kasi hindi naman lahat ng community pantries ay initiated by one group or one individual," he told ABS-CBN's Teleradyo.
(We're just checking what they're doing, what's the situation in these community pantries because not all of these are organized by one group or individual.)