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House leader wants CHR, NBI probe into red-tagging of community pantries

Xave Gregorio - Philstar.com
House leader wants CHR, NBI probe into red-tagging of community pantries
Residents line up to get free food and supplies as the Maginhawa community pantry in Quezon City reopens on Wednesday, April 21, 2021.
The STAR / Michael Varcas

MANILA, Philippines — A House leader is asking the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) and the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) to probe into the reported incidents of red-tagging of community pantries, which forced some of them to pause operations.

“There is a need to look into the red-tagging activities to put a stop to it if it results in good ideas like community pantries being forced to close down,” Deputy Speaker Rufus Rodriguez (Cagayan de Oro) said in House Resolution No. 1725.

Rodriguez said a community pantry in his city closed down after being “red-tagged and systematically harassed,” while a Muslim restaurateur also in his city was supposedly profiled by police after she set up a community pantry outside her restaurant.

It is not clear, however, what an investigation by the CHR and the NBI would result in as there is currently no law penalizing red-tagging.

Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon has filed a bill in the upper chamber which seeks to define and penalize the crime of red-tagging, but this is still pending at the committee level.

Aside from Rodriguez, other House leaders including have also ramped up the offensive against the red-tagging of community pantries.

Deputy Speaker Bienvenido Abante Jr. (Manila), for one, has filed a resolution seeking to realign P16 billion from President Rodrigo Duterte's anti-communist task force to fund cash aid for displaced workers and the poor.

Meanwhile, Deputy Speaker Michael Romero (1-PACMAN party-list), has called for an investigation into how the task force's spending.

It is only now that House leaders have pushed back against the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict's unsubstantiated red-tagging of civilians, which the leftist Makabayan bloc has been consistently sounding the alarm on.

State forces have accused community pantry organizers of taking part in the armed communist rebellion and profiled them, which the CHR said was “concerning.”

Following the uproar over the red-tagging and profiling of community pantry organizers and volunteers, the spokespersons of the anti-communist task force, who were among those who baselessly red-tagged community pantries, were ordered to stop making statements about the mutual aid initiative.

COMMUNITY PANTRY

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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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