Red-tagging of community pantries just ‘sows fear,’ QC mayor says


(Philstar.com) – April 21, 2021 – 9:11pm
MANILA, Philippines — Quezon City Mayor Joy Belmonte on Wednesday called for an end to the anti-communist task force’s red-tagging of those behind community pantries, saying it only sows fear among constituents.

The said initiative first begun in Maginhawa and has since sprouted to other communities. But it did not escape being linked to armed rebels by the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC).

RELATEDWhat to do if law enforcers visit your community pantry? Diokno offers tips

Speaking to ANC’s “Headstart,” Belmonte responded to the red-tagging of organizer Ana Patricia Non, which led her to close the pantry for a day.

“It scares our constituents,” the mayor said. “Our job is to protect and make them feel safe…and what they’re doing is the opposite. It sows fear.”

Belmonte said the task force should learn to trust local governments, after training them to identify which groups might be involved in plans to overthrow government.

“It looks as if they are not trusting the system in place by doing everything themselves and of course, by not informing us also of what they are doing,” the local chief executive said, partly in Filipino.

The NTF-ELCAC has come under heavy criticism for imputing malice on community-led efforts that government critics said show inefficiency in pandemic response.

What began from a simple bamboo cart this week has grown to a movement with many groups joining and long lines of Filipinos queuing.

Probe underway

The Quezon City police is now looking into how its Facebook page shared a post red-tagging pantry organizers, Belmonte said.

She said this was taken down, but a social media manager admitted to spreading the post as it was done previously by the NTF-ELCAC.

“That was already taken down, and they were told to check the legitimacy of the organization,” the mayor added. “And find out why the IT person shared that without validating information. Because that’s tantamount to sharing fake news.”

She also said that the three police officers who, armed with rifles, asked for Non’s details were not from the QCPD.

She said QC cops only carry “yantok” or rattan sticks to implement physical distancing measures or maintain order in community pantry lines.

“I understand your (NTF-ELCAC) concern, [but] maybe we can be more sensitive also to the feelings of our constituents,” Belmonte said. “We don’t want to scare the innocent, to sow fear among those who just want to help. We don’t want to prevent people from doing acts of kindness in helping others.”  — Christian Deiparine

Disclosure: Quezon City Mayor Joy Belmonte is a shareholder of Philstar Global Corp., which operates digital news outlet Philstar.com. This article was produced following editorial guidelines.



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