By Johannes L. Chua

The Covid-19 pandemic brought pain and suffering, exposing man’s worst side, especially seen among those who profit needlessly on the adversity of others. It is also during this time when humanity’s best traits rise above the disheartening news—of people who, in their own little ways, have shown compassion, went out of their way to donate DIY personal protective equipment, and gave their time and limited resources to those who need it most.

Together with news of the rising cases of Covid-19 patients, is the rise of news showing that bayanihan is alive and well among Filipinos at this crucial moment in time. News of government officials—led by the President Rodrigo Duterte himself—donating their one-month salary or accepting pay cuts to fund efforts to fight the spread of Covid-19, are commendable. It becomes admirable, however, when that kind of pledge comes from the government officials of a fourth-class municipality in the island province of Basilan.

Maluso, a fishing community with a population of around 40,000 people and 20 barangays, is not “wealthy” compared to other big cities and towns, but it was able to raise almost P840,000 from the April salaries of the mayor, vice mayor, municipal officials, and barangay captains combined.

As of writing, Maluso is the only municipality in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) to have officials doing this act of charity to boost efforts against Covid-19 and help residents cope during quarantine.

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“We felt that despite all efforts both from national and local government to address the problem of food security in our municipality during the entire period of the enhanced community quarantine, there is still not enough budget. Hence, we exhaust all means within our capacity to come up with our own initiative and one of these is to experience a little sacrifice from our end by donating our one-month salary in aid of the needs of our constituents,” said Mayor Hanie Bud, or Hans, to Manila Bulletin Lifestyle.

This donation was backed up by a resolution approved by Bud, together with vice mayor Al-Mashor Yasin, along with all municipal councilors. They “expressed their intent to join other national and local leaders to help address primarily the lack of medical supplies and personal protective equipment (PPE) for frontline workers.”

“The Sangguniang Bayan will voluntarily donate 100 percent of the net salary for the month of April 2020 to the Municipal Inter-agency Task Force Covid-19 for relief operations in the municipality and for other purposes that the task force may deem,” a statement from the municipality said.

Prior to the approval of the resolution, the municipal government has distributed food packs and other relief assistance to constituents since the enhanced community quarantine was imposed in Basilan last March 22.

In a time when the call for all hands on deck is immediate, even the smallest help—from a small town far, far south from the capital—can make a big difference.

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