The Concerned Artists of the Philippines Bicol Chapter (CAP Bicol) condemned the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict’s (NTF-ELCAC) intimidation, surveillance, and red-tagging of the organizers of community pantries.
“As many families go hungry due to the extended COVID-19 lockdown, community pantries have sprouted all over the country led by ordinary citizens offering free food and supplies for the starving population. Duterte and his allies should be ashamed of their atrocities and abuses against those who are just helping raise funds and supplies for our people,” the group said.
For CAP Bicol, instead of wasting efforts to silence the clamor of the people for immediate aid, the Duterte government should abolish the NTF-ELCAC and conduct a full accounting of the P19-billion budget allocation which can be used to augment the government’s fund for its Covid-19 response. For them, this budget can also help assist those reeling from the economic impact of the pandemic and address the root cause of unemployment and poverty.
“NTF-ELCAC’s spokesperson Lt. Antonio Parlade, Jr. and Presidential Communications Operations Office Undersecretary Lorraine Badoy who accused the organizers of these initiatives of having links to the communist movement, should also resign now or be removed immediately from their posts. Their incompetence and dangerous claims about community pantry organizers can lead to warrantless arrests, torture, enforced disappearances (ED), or worst, extrajudicial killings (EJK),” the group added.
As an organization of writers, artists, and cultural workers committed to the constitutionally-protected principles of freedom, justice, and democracy, “we urge the government to stop this climate of suspicion, harassment, and profiling of these initiatives which affected our sense of compassion and empathy. Organizing community pantries and other mutual aid initiatives is not a crime,” they ended.