MANILA, Apr 26 (Mabuhay) — National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon Jr. said Sunday that Lieutenant General Antonio Parlade Jr. and Larrine Badoy — both spokespersons for the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) — will be ordered to stop from making comments  on community pantry initiatives in the meantime.

In a phone interview with reporters, Esperon, who is also the chairman of the NTF-ELCAC, said Parlade and Badoy will be asked to “Desist in the meantime, not to desist as spokespersons, but from making comments about the community pantry issue.”

He added that the purpose of the “gag order” is to avoid confusion regarding the bayanihan initiative.

“Kapag nagsalita sila akala kasi ng iba (if they make comments) some would take it as the two are against the concept of bayanihan,” Esperon added.

Moreover, he said, “Ang purpose lang naman (the only purpose is) to avoid no heated exchanges as if we are red-tagging or saying that [bayanihan] is bad.” But no, we are not, because we ourselves are proponents of bayanihan spirit.

Esperon also defended his colleagues, saying Parlade and Badoy have “bayanihan” projects in their towns.

“[For instance] Gen. Parlade has many projects on Byanihan in his area in Southern Tagalog, and Mimaropa, except Palawan. On the other hand, Undersecretary Badoy is involved in civic organizations and she knows bayanihan.”

Earlier, Parlade denied allegations that they are linking community pantry organizers to communist rebels, even as he claimed that some leftist groups are copying the initiatives.

Last week, critics slammed police officers over the profiling of community pantry owners. The alleged red-tagging also led to the temporary closure of community pantries in the well-known Maginhawa Street in Quezon City, and Cagayan de Oro in Mindanao.

Maginhawa Community Pantry organizer Ana Patricia Non already reopened their operations as more and more needy residents and donors come around.

Parlade, Badoy take desist order well

Meanwhile, Esperon said Parlade and Badoy took the idea of desist order very well, as they understood the situation.

“They understand. They also want to support the bayanihan. So if ang sabi nila kung nagiging (if their remarks) are unclear and muddles the perception about community pantry, then they can desist,” Esperon said.

On the other hand, he said that NTF-ELCAC officials can still observes the bayanihan initiatives, citing the tragic incident at actress Angel Locsin’s community pantry in Barangay Holy Spirit, where a senior citizen passed away after waiting in line for his turn to be served.

Locsin already apologized “for a lifetime” over the incident, saying that she had been able to talk to the 67-year-old man’s children. (MNS)

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