Red-Tagging of Community Pantries

Since mid-April, Community Pantries have been springing up all over the Philippines: self-organized, donation-based food distribution points to support people who have no financial means (anymore) due to the pandemic.

On April 14, Ana Patricia Non initiated the first Community Pantry in Quezon City on Maginhawa Street, inspiring the creation of more than 300 others nationwide. Quickly, however, the Community Pantries also became targets of red-tagging. For example, the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) disseminated material via social media branding the Maginhawa Community Pantry as a “communist” movement; and police officers on site repeatedly asked for personal contact information. Out of concern and fear, the initiators closed the Community Pantry temporarily.

The Commission on Human Rights (CHR) strongly condemns the red-tagging, profiling, surveillance of Community Pantries, and the disregard for data privacy, calling them “shameful and politicking actions of the few ideologically bent.” The red-tagging of community pantries sparked a debate in the Senate over the role of the NTF-ELCAC. Calls are being made to abolish its budget or at least review it – some are also calling for the dismissal of controversial NTF-ELCAC spokesman and General Antonio Parlade from.

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