Copycat? PNP to 'plant' civilians in community pantry-like 'Barangayanihan'

Franco Luna - Philstar.com
Copycat? PNP to 'plant' civilians in community pantry-like 'Barangayanihan'
Photo shows CDO police personnel leading the the BARANGAYanihan Rolling Stall at Punta, Brgy Bonbon, Cagayan de Oro City on April 26, 2021 at 2:00 PM.
Release / Police Regional Office 10

MANILA, Philippines — After reports of police profiling and intimidation of community pantry organizers over the past week, the Philippine National Police is now rolling out its own iteration of the initiative called "Barangayanihan." 

To recall, community pantries, where the hungry can get or donate goods, so long as they "take what they need, and give what they can"—sprouted one after the other around the country during the past week.

Reports of harassment and intimidation from police personnel at some of the sites followed closely behind in what academics and progressive groups alike say was the response of a government that felt threatened with the fruit of its incompetent pandemic response suddenly front and center in the news cycle. 

According to a project brief from the PNP Directorate for Police-Community Relations acquired by Philstar.com, police-community precincts have been instructed to "cite the Maginhawa community pantry as an inspiration" for their own "Barangayanihan Lugawan."

PCPs are outposts that are administratively under a police station.

In the directive, the planted beneficiaries are also expected to post on social media praising the security forces for the pantry initiatives.

The project is meant to "clearly manifest in respective PCPs that there's a clear partnership between the police and the community," the brief reads, adding "respective beneficiaries will take pictures of the activity and post in their respective [Facebook] accounts."

LOOK: Memo from Cagayan de Oro police "cites the Maginhawa community pantry as an inspiration" for the PNP's "Barangayanihan Lugawan" initiative and instructs cops to photograph "planted beneficiary civilians so as to manifest community appreciations" @PhilstarNews pic.twitter.com/KgLiKmJO1s

— Franco Luna (@francoIuna) April 26, 2021

"These netizens can be planted beneficiary civilians so as to manifest community appreciations." 

"For other efforts not involving serving breakfast lugaw, don't use #LugawIsEssential," the project brief also reads, in reference to a hashtag that went viral after an incident at a barangay checkpoint where a delivery rider was accosted for trying to deliver lugaw during a curfew. The hashtag was also used after an interior department official's comments on Vice President Leni Robredo, whom government supporters refer to as "Lugaw".

The PR effort was seen across police regional districts around the country, though given different names. 

Progressive groups slam 'copycat' 

In a statement, progressive group Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas said that the memo "shows the PNP' desperation to copycat community pantries by launching community lugawan to advance their selfish interests of salvaging the PNP's tarnished image and reputation."

"These pathetic efforts by the PNP are also meant to hijack the well-meaning objective and cause of community-led pantries to aid our hungry and needy population. Like the NTF-ELCAC, the PNP is out to sabotage community pantries through politicking and redtagging," KMP chairperson Danilo Ramos said. 

"We must expose these vile acts and opportunists who take advantage of vulnerable sectors and the masses."

Labor group Kilusang Mayo Uno also condemned the directive to "plant beneficiary civilians" among community pantry initiatives of the police to show "community participation."

"The PNP and the Duterte government accuse the community pantries of having a hidden agenda, but they are the ones with dirty intentions! It is very typical of an inept government to take desperate steps using the people's tax just to save their president from responsibility." said KMU secretary general Jerome Adonis.

KMU said that instead of these publicity stunts, a chunk of the PNP's hefty budget must be rechanneled to cash aid to the people.

"Papogi at epal ang mga 'to, idiretso nyo ang pera sa mamamayan sa pamamagitan ng P100 daily wage subsidy at P10k ayuda!"

CDO police also required to set up pantries

Police Lt. Col. Joel Nacua, spokesperson for the Cagayan de Oro City Police Office confirmed to Philstar.com in a phone call that police in the area were required to set up community pantries of their own.

He stressed though, that the pantries are called "Barangayanihan", which he said will run until May.

Nacua said resources for the pantries would be given by police personnel. 

The city police spokesperson also played down reports of police harassment of organizers. 

"It's probably just a misunderstanding. Police are just there to ensure orderly distribution. If there are a lot of people there, they should be observing health protocols and physical distancing, and we will deploy police visibility to do that," he said. 

He added, despite reports of police personnel doing so anyway, that "it's prohibited for us to ask for personal data."

Philstar.com sought Police Brig. Gen. Ronaldo Olay, PNP spokesperson, for comment, though he has not responded as of this post. 





As It Happens
LATEST UPDATE: April 25, 2021 - 4:30pm

Follow this page for updates on community pantries, a simple initiative in a community in Quezon City, which became a movement to take action and help those in need. Main image by The STAR/Michael Varcas.

April 25, 2021 - 4:30pm

ABS-CBN says it stands by actress Angel Locsin, who has been criticized over the death of an elederly man who had lined up at a Quezon City community pantry she had set up to mark her birthday.

In a statement, the network says it "believes in the goodness of the heart of our Kapamilya Angel Locsin, who has tirelessly helped our countrymen in times of crisis."

"We admire her commitment to continue serving the Filipino people with selfless dedication and love."

"We stand by her and thank her for being a shining example of generosity, accountability, and compassion."

April 24, 2021 - 12:21pm

Quezon City Mayor Joy Belmonte releases the guidelines for the community pantries.

The guidelines include coordination with barangay, following health protocols, observing safety hours, among others.

At present, there are 90 community pantries in Quezon City.

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