Volume III, Number 8. 30 April 2021.

As one observer remarked, the only thing red in the mutual aid stalls are the tomatoes.

Well-meaning Filipinos started these self-help initiatives, putting up makeshift stalls on the sidewalks of poor communities. Anyone can leave food and other necessities, so that others can take what they immediately need. But the ultra-paranoid Duterte regime branded these activities as subversive, and the regime’s rabid anti-communist enforcers went into action.

Lt. Gen. Antonio Parlade harassed the community pantry initiator, Ana Patricia Non, calling her Satan with the tempting apple, while Communications Undersecretary Lorraine Badoy insinuated that Ms. Non was making money from the donations. They tagged the community pantry organizers as communists. Their accusations, thankfully, blew up in their faces.

In a matter of days, hundreds of such initiatives spread like wildfire all over the country, following the same motto, “Give what you can, take what you need” in helping each other. When Parlade, Badoy and others from the regime regarded this as communistic, people come to realize that the Duterte regime and the ruling classes do exactly the opposite: “Take all you can, leave nothing to others.”

Billions of pesos of public funds have been earmarked to combat the raging pandemic and distribute financial aid for the increasing number of jobless and hungry Filipinos. But under the incompetent and corrupt Duterte regime, the suffering of the great majority of the people worsened rather than abated.

As the community pantry movement spreads like wildfire and gets ever wider support within and outside the Philippines, cracks within the ruling clique grow ever wider. In addition to grumblings among high-level security officials displeased with Duterte’s inaction to Chinese incursions in the West Philippine Sea, these latest antics of  Parlade and Badoy, the mouthpieces of the National Task Force to End the Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) serve as additional wedges. Senators are calling for the duo’s heads and the diversion of the NTF-ELCAC’s lavish budget to social services.

The balls of fire that the duo hurled at the community pantry, missing the target, boomeranged at their faces. More and more people realize that to have a better chance to fight hunger and poverty, they must turn humanitarian efforts into political action and oust the corrupt, incompetent and traitorous Duterte regime.

The rope that holds Damocles’ sword is fraying.