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Palace on NTF-ELCAC 'red-tagging' pantry organizers: It's their decision

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Malacañang on Tuesday steered clear of the alleged red-tagging of organizers of community pantries by an anti-insurgency task force that President Rodrigo Duterte created.

"Desisyon nila 'yan [that's their decision]," presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said during a press briefing when asked if the Palace will call on the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) to stop red-tagging community pantry organizers using Facebook posts.

"We have free market place of ideas. Kahit anong sabihin nila (NTF-ELCAC), basta nakikinabang ang taumbayan, maniniwala pa rin ang ating mga kababayan sa community pantries," he added.

(No matter what NTF-ELCAC says, as long as the people benefit from community pantries, the people will continue to patronize community pantries.)

The alleged red-tagging by the government has forced the organizer of the Maginhawa Community Pantry, which kickstarted the current trend of community pantries, to temporarily stop its operations.

NTF-ELCAC spokesperson Lieutenant General Antonio Parlade Jr. denied that they are red-tagging these organizers but admitted that background checks are being conducted.

He also said leftist groups are "exploiting" the community pantry trend to push their agenda to the public and undermine the government.

Roque said the Duterte administration is supportive of the community pantry initiative and will not hamper its operations.

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

DILG Secretary Eduardo Ano has earlier ordered the police and local government officials not to interfere with the operations of community pantries.

In a statement, Año said intervention on community pantries should be limited to ensuring that minimum public health standards amid the COVID-19 pandemic are being observed. —KBK, GMA News

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