The Association of Major Religious Superiors in the Philippines on Tuesday spoke out against the red-baiting of community pantries, calling on critics to instead support grassroots initiatives to help people amid the pandemic.

“We remind those in power that they are servants – not masters – of the people. People are tired of quarantines. People have lost jobs and loved ones. People are hungry. People are in distress. Instead of harassing, maligning and belittling these innocent community efforts, we challenge those in authority to join and be a part of it. After all, power has been given to you for you to serve, not to be served,” the group said in a statement.

In a now-deleted post, the Facebook page of the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict shared another post insinuating that Ana Patricia Non, the organizer of the Maginhawa Community Pantry, is a member of communist groups.

The AMRSP lauded the efforts of the community pantries in various parts of the country.

“These noble efforts at bayanihan and bahaginan are rooted in the commandment “to love thy neighbor as Christ loved us”. There is nothing sinister nor diabolical with loving, caring, and acting in solidarity with one another?” the statement said.

The Maginhawa Community Pantry was temporarily closed on April 20 amid safety concerns after it was “red-tagged” by pro-government individuals on social media.

Interior Secretary Eduardo Año said in a statement last April 20 that there was no need for the Philippine National Police to interfere with the community pantries as long as they followed minimum health protocols. Arvee Christine R. Biscocho