Giving hope in BARMM

ROSES AND THORNS - Pia Roces Morato - The Philippine Star

'Who is he that will loan to Allah a beautiful loan which Allah will double unto his credit and multiply it many times?’

Islam, like other religions, enjoins its followers to ‘give’ for individual and societal well-being. The verse above, from the surah Al Bakarah in the Qu’ran, teaches us of the importance of giving generously in Islamic culture. As giving is one of the five pillars of Islam, this verse helps us to establish a better understanding of views that underlie the intention behind giving, and doing things that inspire others to give.

Take volunteering, for example. Volunteerism is usually done in the spirit of generosity. Volunteering your time to support a cause you are passionate about is something you will never regret. It will enrich your life, familiarize you with your community and connect you to people and ideas that will positively impact your perspective for the rest of your life. Helping your community is an opportunity for you to grow as a person, to better understand how you fit into the world around you.

When I first volunteered for the Reserve Force, I saw it as an opportunity to contribute to my community and to my country in a very big way. As a member of the Reserves, I look forward to every opportunity to serve my country. From greeting the troops in the field to interviewing top brass in order to help fight disinformation and fake news, I feel that my contributions, though small, are important to those who need them and this is incredibly fulfilling for me as a person.

Which is why when I saw the recent accomplishment report of the Bangsamoro Government on their medical assistance – cleverly named AMBaG (Ayudang Medikal Mula sa Bangsamoro Government) – I got to thinking about the whole concept of contribution, support and how it is such a great indicator of good governance that so much went to public health rather than private pockets.

Under AMBaG, the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) contributed approximately P87 million across 22 partner hospitals in the region and outside the BARMM, to subsidize expenses of patients not covered by PhilHealth and other medical assistance programs.

Out of the 14,700 helped, more than 10,300 people checked in and checked out without paying for a single thing -– a zero balance billing, as they call it. This naturally reminded me of socialized medicine in countries like the UK, Australia and Canada – and how so many people around the world are keenly aware of how expensive it is to get sick and/or hospitalized. Considering that 90 percent of all COVID-19 cases in BARMM have recovered, it is more good news that nobody had to lose their savings in order to keep their lives.

BARMM is still technically in transition, on its way to becoming a fully autonomous political entity – and it really is encouraging that so much help was organized for the people of the region. The peace process in BARMM requires disarming some 40,000 Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) fighters and ensuring both their smooth integration into civilian life and peace dividends for communities where they live – the fact that the Bangsamoro Transition Authority (BTA) has been able to amass and coordinate contributions to the scale that they have, while still working tirelessly to see the peace process through, is incredibly inspiring.

The many people I have spoken with put it in a very succinct, yet deeply profound, manner: today’s BARMM is a tremendously far improvement from yesterday’s ARMM. As one middle-aged father from Buluan described it, the difference between ARMM and BARMM is “immeasurable” in terms of positive developments.

Accordingly, may those in the BTA and in the BARMM be blessed with good health and fulfillment, that they may continue to be such great examples of solid public service. Shukran.

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