Ana Patricia Non, the organizer behind the first Maginhawa community pantry, halts operations for the safety of the volunteers as she fears being red-tagged.
In a Facebook post on Monday night, Non announced the sad news while sharing screenshots of posts from organizations and individuals criticizing the project and calling it a propaganda by communist groups.
Non shared that she started the Community Pantry project out of good intentions and that it only means to serve fellow community members. "Malungkot po dahil hindi muna maipapamahagi ang goods na inihanda namin buong maghapon dahil po sa #RedTagging na nagaganap," she wrote.
She also wrote to seek help and protection from Quezon City Mayor Joy Belmonte, after three policemen came asking for her number and what organization she's with.
"Natatakot po ako maglakad mag-isa papunta sa Community Pantry ng alas singko ng umaga dahil po sa walang basehang paratang sa amin. Gusto ko lang po talaga makatulong at sana po ay huwag nyo masamain," Non said.
Mayor Belmonte told ABS-CBN's Teleradyo that she is already in touch with the QC Police District director to investigate on the matter. She also "would like to personally assure" Non that Quezon City "fully supports" their project and that the matter will be investigated.
"Indeed, these initiatives highlight the bayanihan spirit inherent in our QCitizens. The government will therefore ensure that the organizers and beneficiaries of Community Pantries remain safe and unimpeded," Belmonte said in a statement.
Meanwhile, the National Privacy Commission released a statement today, April 20, regarding the red-tagging issue on community pantries.
"We would like to emphasize that collecting personal data must be done fairly and lawfully with respect to the rights of a data subject, including the rights to be informed and object," it wrote.
It cited that the Philippine National Police (PNP), under its former leadership, acted on "unlawful profiling" and have protected the privacy of the citizens.
"Today, we call on again the attention of the PNP Data Protection Office to look into these reports and take appropriate measures to prevent any doings of its personnel on the ground that could potentially harm citizens and violate rights. Should there be a need to collect personal information to maintain peace and order, it must be accomplished with transparency, legitimate purpose, and proportionality," it added.
QC People's Law Enforcement Board also said that it is currently investigating QCPD saying, "It is beyond comprehension why allegedly certain members of our PNP approached the [organizer] to ask for their cellphone number and affiliations... Abusive cops will not be tolerated."
Non was the first to open a makeshift pantry along Maginhawa Street in Quezon City on April 14 in a response to the community's need for supplies during the pandemic. It has since inspired other communities around the country to open their own.
Non said in an interview with CNN Philippines, “Ito po talaga yung kailangan ngayon. Katulad po ng nakikita natin sa news po, sa balita, na ang haba ng pila sa ayuda. And hindi naman po tatagal yung isang libo, limang libo na ayuda. So kailangan po talaga ng extra support sa mamamayan.”
Photo courtesy of Philippine STAR