Opposition Senator Leila M. de Lima has urged the Filipino public to embody the Filipino “Bayanihan” spirit anew in defending community pantry organizers against red-tagging and harassment by authorities.
De Lima, a social justice and human rights champion, likewise underscored the need to investigate the red-tagging of organizers of community pantry, including Ana Patricia Non, the woman behind the first community pantry in Maginhawa, Quezon City that spawned similar movements across the country.
“This regime is scared witless of the hope that these community efforts have sparked amid a pandemic. Takot na takot sa sariling multo kaya kailangang pakilusin ang kanyang kapulisan upang mapigilan ang tuluyang paglalantad sa kanilang kapalpakan. Kailangang kagyat na paimbestigahan ang mga insidente ng panggigipit na ito at panagutin ang mga may sala,” she said.
“Let us stand behind Ana Patricia Non and organizers like her. Defend our community pantries. Resist the regime’s attempt to deprive people of the right to live a life with dignity, especially amid a life- threatening crisis. Itaguyod ang pagdadamayan at tunay na bayanihan,” she added.
The Maginhawa community pantry along Maginhawa Street in Quezon City temporarily stopped last April 20 after Non announced the pantry’s temporary closure over “Red-tagging” on social media last April 19.
One of the screenshots included in Non’s Facebook post showed that the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict, which has been previously involved in Red-tagging controversies, shared posts saying the community pantries are being used for propaganda of communist groups.
In an online press conference, Non denied connection with the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and assured that the Maginhawa Community Pantry will resume and continue operation because “mas marami ang nangangailangan kaysa sa nagbabatikos.”
The lady Senator from Bicol shared that the reported harassment and red-tagging of Non and organizers of other community pantries did not surprise her because “Duterte’s rule thrives on people’s misery that anything good coming from the people is threat to them.”
“Bawal ang maging makatao sa ilalim ni Duterte,” she said. “Even residents from poor communities like Aroma in Tondo have pooled their meager resources to put up a pantry tapos sasabihin propaganda ang inisyatibang ito? Pakana ng NPA?”
In a joint statement, De Lima, along with Senators Franklin Drilon, Risa Hontiveros, Francis Pangilinan, Nancy Binay, Sherwin Gatchalian, Grace Poe, and Ralph Recto said the harassment and intimidation of those involved in these relief efforts exacerbate the hunger and hardships of Filipinos.
“Ang bayanihan at damayan ng mga ordinaryong mamamayan sinasaluduhan at tinutularan. Mga walang puso at mali ang panggigipit at pananakot sa mga nais lang tumulong,” the Senators said. (30)