A Series on Latter-day Saint Essential Workers

Frontline Chronicles

Pandemic reminds police officer of vital life lessons

Pandemic reminds police officer of vital life lessons

Roberto Bañaga, Las Piñas Philippines Stake

Roberto Bañaga, Las Piñas Philippines Stake

Roberto Bañaga, or Obet to his friends, is a police corporal designated as the Action PNCO (Police Non-Commissioned Officer) of the Station Operation and Plans Branch of the Navotas City Police Station. Since the Enhanced Community Quarantine was declared, he has been coordinating the deployment to the Inner Quarantine Control Points (checkpoints).

As an essential worker, PO2 Bañaga inspects all the checkpoints in their area of responsibility, ensures that they are well-manned and that the quarantine rules are implemented in an orderly and humane manner. To say that he is exposed to great risk is a huge understatement.

Despite the danger, he affirms that his resolve to fulfill his sworn duty is firm because he is committed to his job. He refuses to be discouraged when he realizes that other people get to stay safe with their families inside their homes while he has to remain outside, fighting an unseen virus. “I have been trained to serve and protect by helping our countrymen to follow the rules of the Extreme Enhanced Community Quarantine,” he explains. “I have given my word.

PO2 Bañaga inspects all the checkpoints

Brother Bañaga’s commitment to his duty has been tested several times. Once, when his motorcycle got a flat tire, he walked the bike all the way from Muntinlupa City to Paco in Manila where he found a vulcanizing shop. At another time, he was gripped with fear when he felt like he may have caught the dreaded virus. His worry was not for himself but for his pregnant wife.  

Brother Bañaga ang his wife.

I fasted for three consecutive Sundays and really wrestled with the Lord,” he shares. “Peace finally came to my mind when I read Doctrine Covenants section 89 wherein health and protection was promised to those who keep the Word of Wisdom. I knew that “the destroying angel shall pass by [me] as the children of Israel, and not slay [me] (D&C 89:21).

What is the secret to his courage? His testimony of the gospel of Jesus Christ and the words of the living prophet. “Even before the pandemic broke out, the First Presidency gave guidelines to every member of the Church. We can not predict what will happen in the future, but the guidance Heavenly Father gave through the prophet helped prepare us for this crisis.

He was quick to agree that repeated reminders to be self-reliant, having food storage and the 72-hour kits, shifting to home-centered gospel learning, and all the recent adjustments in the Church were meant to strengthen us and prepare for this. 

This pandemic also reminded him to value things that matter most. “Rich or poor, we will all die if we catch the virus. Money did not matter as much, you can’t buy a vaccine because there isn’t one yet. Good health, being with your family, and exercising your faith are the most important things.” ◼︎