As American novelist James Lane Allen once said, “Adversity doesn’t build character. It reveals it.” Barely a month has passed but the pandemic has already exposed the characters of Filipino people from different walks of life. You can dismiss it as an instinct, a kind of defense mechanism—but it really isn’t. It’s character. Crisis exposes character.
And clearly, the rapid spread of COVID-19 in the country, delayed emergency relief response to marginalized communities, underprotected medical workers, and inconsistency in testimonies on the allocations of the “special budget” reveal so much about our leaders.
Fortunately, there are a few young mayors who are leading their respective local government units (LGUs) just fine. Their compassion, transparency and innovative approach have made them the leaders the Filipino people need them to be—especially in a health crisis like this.
Mayor Vico Sotto, 30 (Pasig City)
Right when the outbreak started, Sotto immediately implemented protocols given by the Department of Health and the World Health Organization to prevent transmission of the virus. He was actively posting on social media to make sure that his constituents are in the loop.
So far, Sotto has already bought disinfectant drones for more efficient disinfection practices, inspected all checkpoints and gave the officers in charge a few supplies like thermal guns, gloves and alcohol, passed the Anti-Panic Buying and Hoarding ordinance, distributed relief packages, and placed sanitation tents at the entrances of the City Hall, Pasig City General Hospital and Child’s Hope Children’s Hospital.
Recently, he launched Mobile Palengke to avoid crowding at Pasig Mega Market. He also implemented several assistance programs to ease social unrest.
Upang mabawasan ang dami ng tao sa Pasig Mega Market at mga talipala, inilunsad namin ang MOBILE PALENGKE.
Presyong palengke, mas malapit sa mamimili, at tulong na rin sa mga maninindang Pasigueño.
— Vico Sotto (@VicoSotto) March 24, 2020
Not only is he a good leader, he’s a good follower, too. On Mar. 18, Sotto appealed to the national government to allow tricycles in Pasig to operate. “Let us also remember that not everyone has access to private cars. Not to mention that sharing private, enclosed vehicles may actually be more conducive to the spread of the virus, as compared to a tricycle with a maximum of two passengers,” he wrote in a social media post.
The plea was later on rejected by the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) and was asked to be “more creative.” He complied with the directives and decided to repurpose and deploy their Pasig Bike Share units to aid their frontliners.
Mayor Arth Bryan Celeste, 23 (Alaminos City, Pangasinan)
Celeste is the youngest elected mayor in the Philippines. Using his youth to his advantage, the 23-year-old mayor personally did the repacking and house-to-house distributions of relief goods to ensure that all families in Alaminos City will receive provisions.
He provided help for their local farmers by buying their 730 kilos of vegetables and 10 tons of fruits and distributing them to his constituents. “Hindi po nila maibenta ang kanilang mga produkto kaya bilang tugon, binili po ng ating lokal na pamahalaan para hindi po ito masira at ito’y mapakinabangan,” Celeste wrote in a post.
Disinfection operations are also being implemented. The young mayor does random checks to make sure that everyone is following the ECQ protocol.
Mayor Rolen Paulino, Jr., 29 (Olongapo City)
For Mayor Atty. Rolen Paulino, Jr., one way to ease social unrest among indigent members of the community is by providing them food, vitamins and other relief goods. He personally distributed some of these relief packages.
He also launched “meals on wheels” to distribute ready-to-eat meals while mini markets are placed in villages to decongest their public wet market. He actively monitors local market prices to prevent overpricing. And like other LGUs, disinfection operations are also being implemented.
Sotto, Celeste and Paulino are only three among the 289 millennial mayors in Mega Manila. And hopefully by the next elections, more millennials with strong political principles and values will take over government roles.
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