By Deighton Acuin


"Desisyon nila 'yan.”

This was what Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque had to say when asked during the media briefing if the Malacañang will urge the government’s anti-insurgency task group to stop red-tagging activities against the organizers behind community pantry initiatives.

"We have free market place of ideas. Kahit anong sabihin nila [National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC)], basta nakikinabang ang taumbayan, maniniwala pa rin ang ating mga kababayan sa community pantries," Roque added.

The alleged red-tagging came after the organizer of Maginhawa community pantry halted its operations due to safety concerns.

However, the spokesperson of NTF-ELCAC and Southern Luzon Command Commander Lieutenant General Antonio Parlade Jr. denied the red-tagging activities but later admitted that they are conducting background checks.

Parlade added some groups are “exploiting” community pantries to push their propaganda against the Duterte administration.

Moreover, Roque said the government is showing support of the initiatives and the operations must be unhampered.

"The President and the DILG (Department of the Interior and Local Government) welcome the community pantries,” Roque said. "Let us leave it at that."

Meanwhile, the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) ordered the local governments and uniformed officers not to interfere with the community pantries.

Interior Secretary Eduardo Año said in a statement that interventions on such initiatives shall be limited to assuring that the COVID-19 minimum health and safety protocols are still in place.