ILOILO City – A local chief of the Philippine National Police was called out for maligning and blocking the initiatives of urban poor to feed themselves amid COVID-19 pandemic.
In a statement sent to the media, Bayan Panay said it received reports this afternoon that Molo PNP Chief Engelbert Banquillo asked the village chief of San Juan in Molo district to stop the feeding program initiated by Bayan Muna urban poor members in the community.
According to witnesses, Banquillo also told the village chief not to receive and eat the meals prepared because it may contain the virus.
“[The] people in the urban poor communities are joining hands to mitigate the impact of the pandemic. Even the good Mayor [Jerry Treñas] recognizes these efforts as a sign of help to the local government unit’s efforts,” said Elmer Forro, Bayan Panay’s secretary general.
The locals who are members of Bayan Muna Iloilo City chapter and also the ones who prepared the meals were angered and lambasted Banquillo.
“We personally prepared the meals and distributed them to our members and neighbors. Banquillo is not only lying but also maligns our efforts which are in response to Mayor Treñas’ calls to help each other in this time of pandemic,” they said.
Forro reminded Banquillo that the efforts of the urban poor are in accordance to the wishes of Mayor Treñas.
Human rights group Panay Alliance Karapatan also slammed Banquillo’s desperate act.
“The acts of Banquillo should be condemned and he must be investigated for harassing the people instead of helping them in this time of pandemic,” said Reylan Vergara, the group’s secretary general.
Vergara added that the efforts of progressive and partylist groups are actual solutions to ease the hunger being experienced by the people under enhanced community quarantine.
Forro added that Banquillo also maliciously spread wrong information and insulted the members of communities when he suggested that the community members will harm their own family and neighbors.
“Clearly, Banquillo has no compassion and has ulterior motives in spreading such blatant misinformation, and should be held liable,” said Forro.
Banquillo was also responsible for the deployment of police during a picket at the DSWD Regional Office 6 last April 3.
During the activity, Banquillo even threatened the protesters, who are calling for food aid, to lock them up in unoccupied cells.
Bayan Panay called on the people to denounce this action of Banquillo. Karapatan asked the city’s PNP director to investigate the matter.
“We have to fight this pandemic and assert our rights against fascist acts of the PNP and Duterte,” Forro said./www.panaytodaynet