As the fight against the spread of coronavirus continues, a few government officials are stepping up. Aside from the usual efforts they provide as part of their duties, some officials act as true leaders by providing their constituents safety and comfort during the crisis.
The people of Noveleta town in the Province of Cavite are thankful for all the efforts extended to them by their municipal mayor during the enhanced community quarantine due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Mayor Dino Reyes-Chua, the youngest elected mayor of this town at the age of 39, is on his second term as local chief executive serving this coastal town that is 25 kilometers away from Manila.
Noveleta is very rich in culture and history, being the bailwick of the Katipunan- Magdiwang revolutionary faction headed by Gat. Andres Bonifacio. The original Magdiwang headquarters building is still standing beside the municipal town plaza.
Noveleta has also produced five heroic generals who led the revolution and is also the hometown of Gregoria De Jesus, wife of the Supremo Andres Bonifacio, a.k.a. “Lakambini ng Katipunan” thus making the whole town of Noveleta dubbed as “Bayan ng mga Bayani.”
During his first term back in 2016, Mayor Dino Reyes-Chua started programs to uplift the spirit of “bayanihan” to all his constituents. On March 17, 2020, President Duterte declared a lockdown that included the whole of Luzon including the Province of Cavite. This resulted in a sort of chaos in some areas especially to depressed communities.
At the height of the crisis, Mayor Dino Reyes-Chua donated his entire salary from January to December 2020 to purchase food packs to be distributed to 15,000 families in Noveleta. He launched a weekly house-to-house food delivery to all barangays which lasted for two consecutive months up to the end of enhance community quarantine and when President Duterte extended the ECQ to another month, he even returned his last year’s salary (2019) to the treasurer’s office to cover up for the COVID-19 expenses.
He explained that after exhausting all their savings from 2018 and 2019, he doesn’t want to deplete their calamity fund for the year 2020 because Noveleta is a flood-prone municipality.
“We are only in the first quarter of the year and we don’t know what will happen in the coming months, especially during the typhoon season,” Mayor Reyes-Chua said. Instead of depleting the town’s emergency fund, the mayor waived his one year’s salary and even returned his last year’s salary to augment their funds to purchase enough food packs for all the families living in all 16 barangays.
This news has gone viral and netizens started calling on other government officials to join the “1-year salary challenge” and “Return your salary challenge” started by Mayor Reyes-Chua to donate their respective salaries to the people. There’s an old saying that the true test of leadership is how well you can function in times of crisis.
Mayor Dino Reyes-Chua proved to be a genuine leader when he did the right thing in the right time. At the height of this pandemic, he managed to open their own public hospital that could cater to COVID patients and could also serve as isolation facility.
He even donated his own property (a 1,000 square meter lot) to be the site of the public hospital building. During the inauguration, several media entities lauded his efforts as he fast-tracked and completed the construction of the COVID care facility in just 15 days.
He also uplifted the morale of their frontliners by providing them safety and importance. He always remind them of the real meaning of “bayanihan sa bayan ng mga bayani” which became the battle cry of every citizen living in this coastal municipality.
Tricycle drivers and pedicab drivers were given weekly rations of grocery items as they are not allowed to operate during the enhanced community quarantine. The mayor also launched a “Libreng Sakay Program” for factory workers and medical frontliners during the lockdown.
Last May 3, 2020, Noveleta celebrated its town fiesta without the usual activities. No parades or motorcades, but instead the Mayor surprised them when he personally delivered free lechons to all barangays and to all frontliners to celebrate the town’s fiesta, and all the houses in Noveleta were given a pack of spaghetti to be enjoyed by the whole family.
He encouraged every family to just stay home and celebrate the fiesta eating together as one big happy family. Currently, the Mayor is preparing his constituents for the “new normal” and he is planning to concentrate in providing free Wifi access to all communities and providing free gadgets to indigent students for their e-Learning.
We all know that the fight is far from over but one thing for sure, a true leader emerged amid this crisis and for Mayor Dino Reyes-Chua, a true leader must have a true servant’s heart.