PNP says it will not interfere with 'private sector initiatives'

Franco Luna - Philstar.com
PNP says it will not interfere with 'private sector initiatives'
Residents wanting to pick up some vegetables and other goods at the Maginhawa community pantry queue along the sidewalk of Maginhawa Sreet in Quezon City before dawn on Tuesday, April 20, 2021.
The STAR / Miguel de Guzman

MANILA, Philippines (Updated 3:07 p.m.) — Though he did not explicitly mention community pantries sprouting all around the country, Police Gen. Debold Sinas, PNP chief assured the public that the national police would not interfere with "voluntary private sector initiatives."

In a statement sent to reporters, Sinas claimed that the Philippine National Police was in support of efforts "that seek to alleviate the living conditions of the less fortunate severely affected by the pandemic by providing for their basic needs." 

"The PNP will not interfere in the activity of private groups to distribute aid to the people," he said in Filipino. 

"We will continue to extend utmost assistance to ensure smooth and orderly operations of private sector outreach activities with greater emphasis on the health and safety of both benefactors and beneficiaries of these public endeavors."  

This comes amid reports of harassment of organizers of community pantries at the hands of personnel of the national police, both online and offline. These led to the temporary closure of one food pantry in Maginhawa over fears of the safety of its volunteers. 

As in most allegations of abuse on the part of the PNP, besides an earlier statement denying police were ordered to monitor community pantries, Sinas has not addressed these cases thus far. 

READ: Harassment of community pantries leads to clamped operations

The PNP chief in his statement instead slammed what he said were "apparent attempts by certain quarters to create mass hysteria by propagating falsehood and fake news over cyberspace."

"These persons will be unmasked, investigated and their motives probed," he said.

However, it was the Quezon City Police District's social media team whose district director admitted should "be more circumspect and sensitive in their functions to protect the interest of the people."

This came after the QCPD's official social media channel shared posts baselessly accusing community pantries of being linked to communist rebels.

"The post originated from the Facebook Page of Peace Philippines - a youth organization [whose] legitimacy is now being verified," Police Brig. Gen. Antonio Yarra, QCPD Director, admitted in a statement. 

He also promoted the PNP's similar effort, sharing reports of the continuing implementation of the PNP Food Bank Project that he said has benefitted some 35,512 families and 8,511 other individuals. 

"The PNP fully supports such expression of Bayanihan culture and Filipino spirit of compassion. In fact, the PNP initiated in 2020 a Food Bank Project for indigent and disaster-stricken communities," Sinas said. 




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