The Maginhawa community pantry will temporarily shut today after its organizer was accused of having communist ties.
In an online statement posted last night, Patricia Non sought the protection of Quezon City Mayor Joy Belmonte after a few policemen allegedly asked for her number and the organization that she represents.
“I have bad news. Tomorrow [Tuesday] we will put the #MaginhawaCommunityPantry on pause for the safety of our volunteers,” Non said.
“This is sad because we won’t be able to give the goods that we have prepared the entire day because of the #RedTagging that is happening,” she said.
Non shared screenshots of several social media posts where some pantries were accused of being run by members of the Communist Party of the Philippines. One screenshot was taken from the Facebook page of the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict, the military organization led by Lieutenant General Antonio Parlade, who has red-tagged several people, including celebrities.
“I am afraid to walk to the community pantry at 6am alone because of these baseless allegations against us. I just want to help and I hope you don’t take it against me,” Non said.
Non came up with the pantry, which is similar to food banks in Australia and the United States, to help Filipinos who have lost their jobs due to the pandemic. People are free to take food and other items from the pantry, but they are also encouraged to give what they can. Within days the idea was replicated in several towns all over the country.
The pantries’ slogan, copied from writer George Whitman’s “Give what you can take what you need,” became a rallying cry for those dissatisfied with the government’s apparent inaction amidst people’s suffering. Shortly after Non’s Quezon City pantry was shut, #OustDuterteNow trended on Twitter.
Human rights organization Amnesty International has urged the Duterte government to stop its widespread practice of red-tagging, saying that it was “vicious and at times, deadly.”
“In the prevailing context where red-tagged individuals become the targets of harassment, threats, and even killings, courts and pertinent government agencies must take concrete steps to ensure the safety and protection of these individuals,” it said in a statement.