Esperon: Gov’t looking into pantry organizers’ possible links to rebel groups

National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon Jr adds that they are also looking into the involvement of some persons who plan to weaponize the community pantries

AdChoiceTV News — National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon Jr said the government was looking at possible links of community pantry organizers with some rebel groups.

“We also look into organizers especially if they advertise their organization that would be traced to the legal fronts of the front organization of the CPP-NPA,” Esperon, who was a former chief of staff of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, said in a press conference on April 21.

Esperon added that they were also looking into some persons who plan to weaponize the community pantries for other agenda.

“We would also like to look into possible participation of personalities that may have other agenda that may tend to turn these projects for political and agitational purposes,” the national security adviser said. 

On April 19, community pantry organizers called out the red-tagging of government agencies, such as the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict. They also reported profiling and monitoring of some policemen.

Due to the fiasco, the pioneering community pantry in Maginhawa, Quezon City organized by Ana Patricia Non was temporarily shut down on April 20. 

In a quick turnaround after it got bashed for its red-tagging ordeal., the Quezon City Police District apologized and offered to help community pantries.

No profiling

Esperon reiterated that the government was not profiling the organizers behind community pantries, but rather “just looking” into them. 

“We are not investigating. We are just looking into it. But investigation is already something else that you would call, and get statements. Iba na ‘yun (That’s something else),” Esperon said. 

PNP earlier denied the profiling order and said it was beyond their interest to do such a thing.

In a phone interview with Rappler on April 20, PNP spokesperson Brigadier General Ronaldo Olay clarified that they did not order any red-tagging activities to its local police units.

Meanwhile, Tinay Palabay, secretary general of human rights group Karapatan, said that they are ready to monitor possible abuses of government agencies of community pantries. 

“Karapatan will be monitoring reports of police profiling, surveillance, and harassment in community pantries, and we call on all communities to stand against these nefarious schemes that aim to stifle our efforts to help and support each other, especially those in need,” Palabay said.

Reporting by Albert Rovic Tan / AdChoiceTV News

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