DEPUTY Speaker and Cagayan de Oro City Rep. Rufus Rodriguez on Tuesday asked the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) and the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) to investigate the reported red-tagging of community pantry organizers.
In House Resolution (HR) No. 1725, Rodriguez said the effort by civic-minded citizens started by Quezon City resident Ana Patricia Non to provide food to the poor amid the pandemic “exemplifies the bayanihan spirit of Filipinos.”
“Unfortunately, many community pantries were forced to close because their owners/organizers became afraid of being red-tagged after being approached by police and asked for their personal information,” Rodriguez said.
In Barangay Kauswagan, Cagayan de Oro City, Rodriguez said a community pantry “closed after being red-tagged and systematically harassed with leaflets being circulated and posted everywhere, resulting in the owner fearing for his life.”
“In another instance in Cagayan de Oro City, a Muslim restaurateur complained that a group of persons who introduced themselves as policemen went to her place and profiled her after she put up a community pantry outside her restaurant,” Rodriguez added.
The House leader stressed that “there is a need to look into the red-tagging activities and put a stop to it if it results in good ideas like community pantries being forced to closed down.” Based on a statement by presidential spokesman Harry Roque, he noted that President Duterte supports citizens’ initiatives to provide food to the needy “who are struggling to survive the pandemic which has gripped the economy.”
Other House members and senators have called for an audit of the billions allocated annually to the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC), with which the red-labelling activities have been associated.