MANILA - Sen. Joel Villanueva on Thursday said he would file a resolution to urge the Senate to review the performance of the government's anti-communism task force after one of its officials likened a community pantry organizer's efforts to Satan giving apple to Eve.
The action of the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) "has been frustrating to say the least," Villanueva said in a taped message.
"They have been engaging in witch hunting, in red-tagging. Para pong wild wild west na (It looks like the wild, wild west)," he said.
"Presidente na ang nagsabi to leave the community pantries alone and yet mayroon pa siyang ganitong lousy statement," Villanueva said.
(The President himself said to leave community pantries alone and yet he still gave this lousy statement.)
Villanueva was referring to NTF-ELCAC spokesperson Lt. Gen. Antonio Parlade Jr. who recently said, "Alam mo, isang tao lang 'yan, 'di ba? Si Ana Patricia, 'di ba? Same with Satan. Si Satan, binigyan ng apple si Eve. Soon lang nagsimula 'yun."
Ana Patricia Non is the organizer of the Maginhawa community pantry in Quezon City that offers free food supplies to those in need amid the pandemic, thanks to different donors. The initiative has been replicated in other parts of the country.
In an interview Thursday in another news agency, Parlade said he did not liken Non to Satan in his earlier remark.
"I never said that... In fact, I said I appreciate what Ana is doing. And nakita ng taumbayan na maganda yung ginagawa ni Ana. But what we are not telling the people is the organization, these other organizations who are even asking people to sign a blank document. Saan gagamitin yun, we don't know," he said.
(The people see that Ana si doing something good... We don't know how will those be used.)
Parlade had denied profiling community pantries and their organizers, saying they are just checking on their situation.
The alleged profiling prompted the Maginhawa community pantry to temporarily close on Tuesday as according to Non, she feared for her safety. It reopened starting Wednesday after officials told groups to leave community pantries alone.
Several senators have called for the defunding of the panel, saying taxpayers' money should instead be used for pandemic-related projects.
"Importante po na responsible ang NTF-ELCAC with the budget of P19 billion," Villanueva said.
"Trabaho at responsibilidad po natin na siguraduhin na nagagastos ng tama ang pera ng taong bayan," he said.
Other senators have also urged Malacañang to remove Parlade from the task force, citing the general's "irresponsible" comments over pro-poor community initiatives.
Malacañang said defunding the anti-communist panel is "unjustified" as the group's budget is intended to develop communities where rebels operate.
Parlade, for his part, said the senators are stupid for proposing to defund the NTF-ELCAC as it was they who approved it through legislation.
"Sila ang stupid kung ito'y binabawi nila. Pinirmahan nila 'yang batas na 'yan para maging serbisyo, ipagpatuloy yung programa ng gobyerno para sa mahihirap. Ngayon, sasabihin nila, ide-defund nila yung NTF-ELCAC?... I'm a spokesperson of the NTF-ELCAC but I don't receive any single peso from the NTF-ELCAC. I'm doing this as a second job," said the Armed Forces of the Philippines Southern Luzon Command chief.
(The senators are stupid for saying they want to remove the fund. They were the ones who signed the law to be able to extend service and continue the program of government for the poor. And now, they are saying they will defund the NTF-ELCAC?)
"Alam nila yun na hindi yun papunta sa NTF-ELCAC, at hindi yun ginagamit sa red-tagging, at hindi yun ginagamit sa intelligence, at hindi yun ginagamit sa profiliing, kung yan man ang gustong tawag n'yo dun," he added.
(They know that those funds don't go to the NTF-ELCAC, that those are not used for red-tagging, for intelligence gathering, and for profiling, if that's how you call it.)