MALACAÑANG is not keen on the idea of dipping its hand in the issue of red-tagging of community pantry organizers by the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC).
In a press briefing, presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said that the act of profiling or red-tagging is purely NTF-ELCAC’s call.
“Desisyon nila ‘yan. We have free marketplace of ideas. Kahit anong sabihin nila (NTF-ELCAC), basta nakikinabang ang taumbayan, maniniwala pa rin ang ating mga kababayan sa community pantries,” Roque said.
The alleged red-tagging by the government has forced the organizer of the Maginhawa Community Pantry to shut down its operations. The decision, however, took a 180-degree turn following an assurance given by Quezon City Mayor Joy Belmonte who promised to provide security.
Maginhawa community pantry organizer Ana Patricia Non said that they will resume distributing and receiving goods on Wednesday after its operations were halted in view of the profiling of several policemen on Monday and red-tag they got from the NTF-ELCAC the next day.
“Bukas po itutuloy na po. Hopefully, po pagka po nakahanap po ng team na mag se-secure ng safety po namin at tsaka ng mga volunteers,” she said at a press conference.
NTF-ELCAC spokesperson Lieutenant General Antonio Parlade Jr. denied that they are red-tagging these organizers but admitted that background checks are being conducted.
He also said leftist groups are “exploiting” the community pantry trend to push their agenda to the public and undermine the government.
Roque said the Duterte administration is supportive of the community pantry initiative and will not hamper its operations.
“The President and the DILG (Department of the Interior and Local Government) welcome the community pantries,” Roque said. “Let us leave it at that.”