MANILA — Ana Patricia Non, the pioneer of the Maginhawa community pantry in Quezon City that helped many poor families at the height of COVID-19 lockdowns but was red-tagged by some officials, expressed her uneasiness with the selection of Cavite Rep. Jesus Crispin "Boying" Remulla as the next Department of Justice (DOJ) Secretary.
"Very uncomfortable na si Rep. Boying Remulla na ang DOJ Sec. Di ko malilimutan 'yung mga accusation niya sa Community Pantry PH noong nakaraan taon sa Congress," Non, who is also known as "Patreng," said in a Facebook post on Monday, May 23.
(Very uncomfortable that Rep. Boying Remulla is the next DOJ Sec. I will not forget his accusations against the Community Pantry PH last year in Congress.)
Remulla has accepted the offer of presumptive president Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr. to be his Justice Secretary.
"Di ko alam kung anong justice system ang magkakaroon tayo," Non said.
(I have no idea what our justice system will look like.)
Non's community pantry, which inspired similar movements across the country, had endured baseless accusations that the project was linked to the communist armed rebellion.
The National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) shared several posts on Facebook accusing the community pantries of propaganda.
The red-tagging spree even led to the temporary halt of its operations.
"Ang sama sa loob na akusahan tayong mga pantry organizers na nagpapasikat dahil may posts tayo," Non said.
(It pains my heart to receive accusations that we pantry organizers were just showing off in our posts.)
"Di man lang inisip na eto 'yung nag-iinform sa public kung saan may existing pantries para madaling puntahan ng mga nangangailangan at donors," she added.
(It didn't cross their minds that the posts were made to inform the public about the existing pantries and help the poor and donors to go to the areas easily.)
Non lamented that despite the community pantry's good intentions, people still saw it with malice: "Movement ng love at kindness sa buong bansa pero pinag-iisipan ng masama yung mga nagtutulungan."
Her apprehension over Remulla's designation to be Justice Secretary is shared by human rights group Karapatan and the Kabataan party-list.
In a statement, Karapatan said the country "can only expect more injustice and even more impunity under the presumptive Marcos-Duterte administration with Remulla at the helm of the DOJ."
"Given Remulla’s atrocious track record of shameless apologia for red-tagging, human rights violations, and attacks on press freedom, we express grave concern over his impending appointment as Department of Justice (DOJ) secretary, especially when his appointment also means that he will get to sit as a member the Anti-Terrorism Council," the group said.
The Kabataan party-list said there is "no justice in sight under" Remulla, whom they accused of killing academic freedom and being a red-tagger.
In an interview with ABS-CBN News Channel, Remulla was asked to comment on his being an alleged red-tagger during the campaign period for Halalan 2022.
"Ang red-tagging is a political term. I'm just unmasking them. Sinasabi ko lang ang totoo (I'm just telling the truth)," he said of those he accused of having links with the communist movement.
But he rejected allegations he will use his future post to go after those people.
When he assumes the DOJ post, discussion about the matter will probably change for him as the atmosphere may turn "formal", unlike during the campaign season, Remulla said.
"Kaya lang, ngayon na ako ang magiging chairman ng Anti-Terror Council under the Department of Justice, siyempre pormal na atmosphere 'yan. Hindi politikal. Ibang usapan 'yan. At lagi na lang nakabantay ang departamento para bantayan ang karapatan ng taumbayan," he said.
(It will be a different story when I become chairman of the ATC under the DOJ because that's a formal atmosphere already, and it's no longer political. The department will always be on the lookout for the rights of the people.)
Asked to illustrate the "atmosphere" for people who might be accused of terrorism, he said, "Meron tayong (We have a) due process... An information will be filed. There will be a preliminary investigation. They will go through the whole process kung may problema (if they are in trouble). That's how the law works."
To people and groups fearful of his administration, Remulla said: "I'm a professional. I have worked (in) many offices in my life. I have always been a professional. If the political atmosphere is very heated, if many of them cannot accept the fact that we have a newly elected President, isa lang ang pakiusap ko para sa bayan natin: Please let, allow our country to succeed."
Remulla and other appointees will have to go through the powerful Commission on Appointments before they can formally assume office.
Marcos is still awaiting proclamation from the Congress which is tasked to canvass votes cast for the President and Vice President in the May 9 elections.
The change in administration is set to take place on June 30.
FROM THE ARCHIVES