An internal memorandum of the Philippine National Police in Region 10 was leaked revealing an order by its regional office to all police units to conduct “bayanihan” activites to imitate the community pantries that have sprouted across the country. It gave instructions to “plant beneficiaries,” take pictures to “manifest community’s appreciation” and “to gain ground in fight against insurgency.”
According to the regional office, the order came from “higher ups,” likely from the NTF-ELCAC whose militarist zealots are obsessed with and subordinates everything to “counterinsurgency.” Clearly, the aim is to hijack the popular form of community pantries which were first organized by ordinary people and progressive individuals and organizations who are fed up with the government’s failure to address widespread hunger and economic desperation.
It is utterly hypocritical for the PNP and the NTF-ELCAC to be counterfeiting the community pantries after they red-tagged and harassed the organizers of the first pantries. In fact, a community pantry in Cagayan de Oro, organized by a young university teacher, was forced to close down after he was red-tagged as supposedly having links with the NPA.
These PNP “bayanihan” are counterfeit because they are merely using public funds to give dole-out small aid. This is pure fakery. They are ordered to do so merely to make it appear that the government is doing something. In fact, it is the Duterte government’s stubborn refusal to extend substantial economic aid of P10,000 which roused people to set up the community pantries.
These poor imitation of the community pantries is a desperate effort to counter negative publicity over the spate of killings and abuse of power perpetrated by the police and anomalies involving the PNP. Under Duterte, the police and military arrogantly impose their power on all aspects of civil society in their “counterinsurgency” obsession. Anyone who resists or who do not cooperate are immediately red-ttagged and subjected to surveillance, arrests or liquidation. Cases of police “tokhang” murder operations against peasants are on the rise, especially in Southern Luzon.
To the detriment of teachers, health workers and other government employees, the police and military have been fattened by Duterte with repeated budget increases for raising salaries and new equipment. Because of their fascist abuses, crimes and suppression of the people, the people hate the police and military to the marrow of their bones. No amount of counterfeit “bayanihan” activities can change that.