MANILA – While the opening of publicly-initiated community pantries in different parts of the country is welcome, the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) on Tuesday lamented that the communist movement is taking advantage of the Filipinos’ bayanihan (teamwork) amid the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic.
In a statement, Presidential Communications Operations Office Undersecretary Lorraine Marie Badoy appealed to the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army-National Democratic Front (CPP-NPA-NDF) to stop its “modus operandi” that aims to help struggling Filipinos amid the Covid-19 pandemic and make them believe that the government is “inutile.”
“Kami sa National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict ay natutuwa sa pag-usbong ng pakikibahagian ng pagkain sa nangangailangan na noon pa man ay nangyayari na sa iba’t ibang sulok ng Pilipinas — at nangyari lahat ng kabutihang asal na yan na walang media coverage at walang pa-press con (We in the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict are elated by the community pantries that have sprouted up in different parts of the Philippines. That has already been a practice in the past without media coverage and press conference),” Badoy, also acting as NTF-ELCAC spokesperson, said.
Badoy’s statement came amid the supposed “red-tagging” of community pantry organizers.
Ana Patricia Non, the person behind the movement to help Filipinos in need amid the pandemic, announced on Monday the temporary closure of the community pantry on Maginhawa Street in Quezon City due to the alleged “red-tagging” incident.
Non also posted several screenshots, including a Facebook post shared by NTF-ELCAC claiming that the community pantry is being used for communist propaganda.
Badoy renewed her call to stop using the term “red-tagging” which she said was merely invented by the CPP-NPA-NDF to destabilize the government.
“Kung kaya’t kami ay umaapela sa CPP-NPA-NDF na tigilan na ang panloloko sa ating mga kababayan (We are making an appeal to the CPP-NPA-NDF to stop fooling our fellow countrymen),” she said. “Kahit minsan, tigilan nyo ang paggamit sa mabubuting puso ng Pilipino para lokohin at ilagay sa kapahamakan (Stop using the kind-hearted Filipinos just to deceive them and put them in danger).”
A Facebook post by anti-communist page Peace Philippines, which was shared by the NTF-ELCAC, grabbed photos of community pantries that are allegedly being used by the communist group to launch a massive recruitment drive.
Peace Philippines claimed “Tulong Kabataan,” an organization allegedly created by CPP-NPA-NDF, has control of some community pantries to get funds and recruit members.
Badoy also questioned the community pantry organizers who are asking for cash donations, saying it is unnecessary.
“Hindi kailangan humingi ng cash na donasyon—lalo dollars. Sapat na ang pagbigay na kung ano ang kaya nating ibigay (There is no need to ask for cash donations, especially if you are asking for dollars. It is already enough to give what you can only give),” she said.
Badoy added that it is unacceptable to use the setting up of community pantries to convince Filipinos to unseat President Rodrigo Duterte.
“Kung pagbigay ng pagkain lang ang tunay na pakay nyo, bakit may kailangang pang dugtong na patalsikin ang isang Pangulong nahalal ng marapat at matuwid at ayon sa ating Saligang Batas na suportado at pinagkakatiwalaan ng nakararami sa atin (If your only intention is to distribute food, why do you have to call for the President’s ouster even if he is elected under the Constitution and supported and trusted by many of us)?” she said.
‘Real’ bayanihan spirit
Despite the supposed ulterior motive of some people behind the setting up of community pantries nationwide, Badoy said the NTF-ELCAC would support those who embody the “real” bayanihan spirit to help their fellow Filipinos survive amid the Covid-19 crisis.
“Buong-buo ang suporta ng NTF-ELCAC sa ano mang adhikain na makapagtuturo ng mabuting pamayanan sa ating mga kababayan dahil ang tutoong pwersa at lakas ng isang bansa ay ang mga mamamayan nito (The NTF-ELCAC has full support to any advocacy for a better community because the real strength of a nation is its citizens),” Badoy said.
Badoy expressed optimism that the bayanihan spirit would remain alive.
“Ang tutoong diwa ng BAYANIHAN ay ang pagkakapit-bisig ng mga mamamayan sa ating pamahalaan na gawa ng mga lingkod bayan na wala na yatang pahinga mula nung nagsimula ang pandemya na ito (The real bayanihan spirit is the people’s cooperation with government workers who are working tirelessly since the pandemic broke out),” she said. (PNA)