Rodriguez asks CHR and NBI to probe harassment of  CDO community pantry organizers

CAGAYAN DE ORO (MindaNews / 23 April) —  Deputy House Speaker Rufus Rodriguez (2nd District, Cagayan de Oro) wants the Commission on Human Rights and the National Bureau of Investigation to investigate the continued harassment of community pantries in this city.

Rodriguez said he would be filing a resolution in the House of Representatives next week directing the CHR and NBI to investigate the alleged harassment of organizers of community pantries in Cagayan de Oro.

The Kauswagan community pantry in Cagayan de Oro City. Screengrabbed from a video on Rene Principe’s Facebook page

He said two incidents of harassment and profiling of the organizers of the food pantries in Barangay Kauswagan and that in front of the Babu Kwan restaurant along Maxandria Street, this city have already been reported.

“I strongly condemn the profiling and red-tagging of those who are providing community pantries in Cagayan de Oro and the country as well,” Rodriguez told MindaNews by phone.

“They should even be commended. Their act of generosity is no crime,” Rodriguez said.

Last Wednesday, the city’s first community pantry ceased its operations after Rene Principe Jr., and other organizers found a poster displayed on the pantry site in barangay Kauswagan accusing them of being  “communist sympathizers.”

Lawyer Ernesto Neri, a friend of Principe, said the organizers also found that unknown persons distributed leaflets in the neighborhood

The latest harassment happened last Thursday afternoon when three alleged “police intelligence operatives” went to the community pantry in front of  the Babu Kwan restaurant along Maxandria Street, this city.

The food pantry is the only halal community pantry in Cagayan de Oro.

Khal Mabuay-Campong, Babu Kwan owner who initiated the community pantry said three men riding in three motorcycles visited their stall around 4 p.m. Wednesday.

“They peppered me with questions on why I am doing this and who are the donors,” Campong said.

Campong said the three men who introduced themselves as “police intelligence operatives” even took a picture of one of the donors who came by.

She also retorted by asking the men what they were doing.

“They told me they are gathering data so they can report this to their superiors in Manila,” Campong narrated.

Despite the harassment, Campong said she was not shaken and vowed to continue the pantry operations.

Brig. Gen. Rolando Anduyan, director of the Philippine National Police (PNP) in Region 10, did not confirm if the three men who interrogated Campong were indeed policemen of his command.

Anduyan said the organizers of the food pantries should be thankful that there are policemen guarding their daily operations.

“What if the crowd becomes unruly or some of them keep on coming back. We are there to prevent that,” he said.

Anduyan assured the organizers the police is not profiling or red-tagging them. (Froilan Gallardo / MindaNews)