Small town takes big strides in Basilan

A wooden footbridge, dilapidated from years of constant use, once linked the coastal community of Upper Port Holland, Maluso, Basilan. It gradually became perilous to the residents as children frequently slipped and injured themselves especially at night.

Finally, the municipal government replaced the old amenity by constructing a wide, concrete footbridge connecting the coastal shanties, and added 30 units of solar-powered street lamps for safety.

Last October, an elementary school in the Muslim Area reopened after being shut down for nearly five years due to insurgent conflicts. In the early part of the pandemic, RadioEdukasyon was launched as radio-based instruction for continuing education especially in remote areas. The local government, the school board and a local radio station sustained continuous learning in the midst of the lockdowns.

These are but some of the significant accomplishments that have positively contributed to the radical transformation of the Muncipality of Maluso under the remarkable leadership of Mayor Hanie A. Bud. 

Upon his assumption to office as the duly-elected mayor of the Municipality of Maluso in 2016, Hanie Bud immediately began to implement program plans and policy directions embedded in the slogan #REBUILD MALUSO, aiming to provide for the growth and development transformation of the Municipality and its constituents.   

At the time, Maluso was slow to progress and development despite its strategic location in the Western Basilan group of municipalities and the neighboring Sulu Archipelago. It had once been a vibrant hub for business and trade in the area, but gradually gained the negative impressions of being an Abu Sayyaf’s lair and an illegal drug-infested Municipality.

Bud never had plans to enter politics. After studying International Relations and Islamic Studies at the Mindanao State University – Marawi City, he became a professor and taught social sciences an Islamic Studies at the Mindanao State University in Tawi-Tawi.

In 2012, then Regional Governor Mujiv Hataman of the defunct Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao saw Bud’s leadership potentials and invited him to join his administration to lead the Regional Youth Affairs of the Autonomous Regional Government. He was later entrusted to assume the position of general manager of the Ports Authority in the entire region. Following his instinct for public service, Bud ran for mayoralty position in 2016 and won. He is now in his third and last term as the Local Chief Executive of the Municipality of Maluso.


During Mayor Bud’s time, Maluso has been a consistent awardee of the prestigious Seal of Good Local Governance or SGLG Award, an annual recognition from the Department of Interior and Local Government-National for a municipality’s performance and transparency in using public funds. The municipality is also a recipient of the Local Government Functional Appraisal Award for LGUs of DILG-BARMM.

As of this writing, Maluso is again vying for another SGLG Award.

Financial administration is number one on the list of criteria for good governance. Bud cites the transparency board at the town hall as the best example of how constituents are informed about how the mayor has been delivering his policies.

“All our disbursements are published and displayed in areas near the town plaza and town hall board. Any resident of Maluso can see all the development funds allocation, how much and where I spent the 20 percent development allocation of the municipality,” says Bud. 

Like other municipalities in Basilan, Maluso had witnessed skirmishes between government forces and militant groups, Abu Sayaf attacks and rido or violent clashes between feuding clans. 

In the past few years, the municipality has been enjoying peace and order. “Before, there was no initiative to settle the long-drawn clan conflicts. If there were, they were not strategic and sustainable,” recalls Bud. “Crime rate was high and wrongdoers were not punished.”

Mayor Bud signed a directive creating the Council of Elders, comprised of respected leaders from different sectors including religious heads. “Settling disputes has been institutionalized. If rido can’t be resolved through the barangay council, the case will be handled by the Council of Elders. They also formulated the first handbook on conflict resolution, the Maluso way. These are based on Islamic values and tradition,” he explains.

The mayor and his colleagues collaborated with Basilan Governor Jim Salliman in launching a massive campaign to eradicate terrorism in the Province. They coordinated with the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Philippine National Police in implementing counter-terrorism measures and lawlessness from the Abu Sayyaf and other radical groups.

New breed

Bud says he has always aimed to ensure that his administration delivers the best services possible and addresses the residents’ priority needs. He acknowledges the efforts of his team and the other mayors for yanking Basilan out from the List of 20 Poorest Provinces in the Philippines.

He explains that many of the Basilan’s mayors are either political neophytes such as himself or second-generation politicians who received top quality education and were exposed to development initiatives in progressive societies. Like Bud, they all shared the same idealism and selfless desire to serve their respective communities.

In the past, traditional politicians were solely dependent on the allocation for the municipality that invariably delayed projects accomplishments and completion. In contrast, the new generation of mayors created extensive networking in the local, regional and national levels that helped in their development programs, observes Bud. Citizens can see more efficient delivery of government’s services and visible improvements. “There are more infrastructures such as roads, bridges and government centers,” says Bud.

Legal certificates and business permits which used to take months to process are now delivered in the same day in Maluso. As his third term comes to end in 2025, Bud has not only devised and delivered citizen-focused policies and projects but also guarantees their continuation.

“I didn’t fail my constituents. Reforms flourished throughout Maluso since 2016. A high benchmark has been set for the successors to follow,” says Bud. “Transparency has always been a challenge. One cannot be transparent if there is vested interest. A good leader is selfless. It takes discipline and determination to be committed, and not to be tempted by graft and corruption.