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Privacy body calls on PNP to look into alleged profiling of community pantry organizers

The National Privacy Commission (NPC) on Tuesday called on the Philippine National Police (PNP) to look into reports of alleged profiling of organizers of community pantries.

This, after Anna Patricia Non, the organizer of Maginahawa Community Pantry in Quezon City, said they would temporarily halt their operation for the safety of their volunteers amid the alleged red-tagging.

The National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict has allegedly posted graphics on its Facebook page linking community pantry initiatives to the communist movement. The Quezon City Police District has also posted a similar graphic on its Facebook page.

With this, the NPC said that while more people set up community pantries in the spirit of bayanihan, “it has come to our attention that there were concerns over alleged profiling of organizers of these initiatives.”

It called on “the attention of the PNP Data Protection Office to look into these reports and take appropriate measures to prevent any doings of its personnel on the ground that could potentially harm citizens and violate rights.”

“Should there be a need to collect personal information to maintain peace and order, it must be accomplished with transparency, legitimate purpose, and proportionality,” the body said.

PNP chief Police General Debold Sinas on Tuesday denied the alleged police profiling of organizers of community pantries, saying there is no order from the National Headquarters to conduct any form of profiling of organizers of community pantries. 

“It is beyond the interest of the PNP to delve into purely voluntary personal activities of private citizens," Sinas said.

The NPC said some individuals were purportedly asked to provide personal data including their email address, Facebook account name, and family background, among others.

“We would like to emphasize that collecting personal data must be done fairly and lawfully with respect to the rights of a data subject, including the rights to be informed and object,” it said.

“The Philippine National Police’s leadership in the past has acted on unlawful profiling and recognized the importance of protecting the privacy of the citizenry in the performance of their duties,” it added.

Meanwhile, Bayan Muna party-list Representative Carlos Isagani Zarate slammed the supposed profiling of individuals who are setting up community pantries.

Zarate said the alleged profiling has forced community pantry organizers to halt their initiative of helping those in need in this time of health crisis.

"Why are you terrorizing those showing solidarity and concern for our poor people? Kasalanan na ba ang pagiging gutom dahil sa kapabayaan ng pamahalaan?" Zarate said in a statement.

(Is being hungry due to the negligence of the government already an offense?)

"Krimen na ba ang pagtulong sa mga nagugutom na mga kababayan natin? May memo ba ang DILG o NTF-ELCAC para pigilan ang mga community pantry?" he added.

(Is helping those in need already a crime? Does the DILG or the NTF-ELCAC issue a memorandum to stop these community pantries?)

Reports stated that some of the organizers of pantries were allegedly being red-tagged and asked for information supposedly by some policemen.

The progressive lawmaker said the police officers' move of asking personal details is violative of the right to privacy of the organizers as well as their other basic human rights.

Zarate said this action has no basis, adding that he wants the matter to be investigated. —with Anna Felicia Bajo/KBK, GMA News