Saints of the
New Millennium
Faith stories of ordinary Catholics in Asia

Filipino Catholic policeman holds onto his faith

Denver Jay Busa remembers the spiritual inspiration he received from his neighbor, the patriarch of a locally influential family
Police corporal Denver Jay Busa is seen at his police  station in Maydolong, a town in Eastern Samar province in the central Philippines.

Police corporal Denver Jay Busa is seen at the Police Regional Office in Palo, a town in Leyte province in the central Philippines. (Photo supplied)

By Ronald O. Reyes

Police officer Denver Jay Busa never misses his brief morning prayer before leaving home for his duties at the Police Regional Office in Palo town of Leyte province in the central Philippines.

Once there, the 27-year-old police corporal picks up a Bible verse to post on police social media sites to inspire his colleagues and others. 

His Catholic faith, Busa says, stems from the catechism he learned in his village parish of St. Roch the Healer Chapel in Maybocog in the town of Maydolong, Eastern Samar, which has some 15,000 people.

Busa was born into a working-class family as the eldest of four children. His father Ernesto Jr. was a coconut farmer and his mother Ma. Rodita worked in a laundry.

His younger brother Ernesto Kevin is an employee with the social services department in Maydolong town and his sister Venice May is a nurse in a private hospital in Tacloban city. The youngest sibling, Velerie, is a senior high school student.

At the age of 9, Busa became an altar server in his parish church and then joined the choir.

“I liked assisting the priest during the Mass by bringing the offertory to the altar and the passing of water and wine. On Sundays, I felt I was involved in a group with a purpose,” Busa recalled.

He says he still remembers his now-deceased parish priest Nemesio Quiloña, who influenced his Catholic faith and taught him Christian values in those early years.

During weekends and holidays, Busa spends his day reading books including the Bible. He also meets some colleagues for Bible-sharing programs.

During longer vacations, he visits his family in their hometown and goes to the parish church to do some work.

Police corporal Denver Jay Busa is seen working at the Police Regional Office in Palo town, Leyte province in the central Philippines. (Photo supplied)

Parents set example

Busa’s devout Catholic parents worked hard to care for the family with a meagre monthly income. As their eldest child Busa vowed to do well in life to become a breadwinner for the family.

“Their hard work and faith became my inspiration,” he said.

The family was poor but always prioritized honesty.

“Sometimes, we didn’t have enough money to buy rice. We struggled but we didn’t become rebellious or disobey our parents because of the poverty,” he said.

Busa remembers the inspiration he received for spiritual and moral well-being from his neighbor Maximo Mabansag, the patriarch of the locally influential Mabansag family.

A grandchild of Maximo Mabansag is Busa’s childhood friend. Between the ages of eight to eleven, he used to visit the Mabansag family every evening because they had a large collection of books.

While doing school assignments with his friend at their home, Busa noticed that it was their family tradition to recite the “Angelus” prayer together.

“As a regular house visitor, I was invited to join them in the prayer. This is how I realized the importance of praying the ‘Angelus’ together,” he said.

Busa obtained a Bachelor of Science degree in Elementary Education, a teaching qualification, at the Eastern Samar State University in his town in 2015. He also passed the national board examination to obtain a teaching license.

Busa (left, standing) is seen leading a training session for his colleagues in the central Philippines. (Photo supplied)

However, he failed to secure a government-ranking position for teachers because of “bad politics.”

“My morale hit rock bottom that day. I realized I must do something and find work to prove my worth,” he said.

Busa then applied to the Police Regional Office-Eastern Visayas (PRO8) at Camp Ruperto Kangleon, in Palo town of Leyte Province.

He was selected as one of 425 new police officer candidates and completed a one-year training course.

Currently, Busa is assigned to the PRO8 Regional Public Information Office.
His assignments include handling and disseminating information to the public through various communication platforms and linkages, including hosting police radio programs.

"My heart is close to the police information office because I got this job through recruitment information they announced on the radio," he says.

Besides his regular job, Busa also teaches new police recruits at the training school. Every now and then he conducts humanitarian activities carried out by the police regional command.

He admits being concerned sometimes about the risks the profession poses.

The killing of three police officers in a shoot-out with an armed gang in Sta. Margarita town in Samar on Jan. 30 is one incident that haunts him.

Busa (right) is seen taking part in a tree planting campaign sponsored by the police regional command in Eastern Visayas region of the central Philippines. (Photo supplied)

Not ashamed of being gay

Busa fondly remembers that during his school years, all his friends were girls. "I didn’t have male friends at all.”

He admitted that he underwent a change in gender orientation in recent years and is gay, which he says he is not ashamed of.

“I have accepted this fact that I am gay. My family, friends, and workmates also know about this. I am thankful to God that they accept and understand me for who I am,” Busa said.

He said he faces no discrimination as a member of the police force due to his sexuality. Busa is thankful for this considering the Catholic-majority country does not have a law to protect the rights of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people (LGBT) community.

“What is important is you perform your job with professionalism, dignity, integrity, pride, and Godliness,” Busa told UCA News.

Busa (sixth from left wearing a white face mask) along with his colleagues pose for photo following a training program. (Photo supplied)

Killing is not an option

Shortly after Busa joined the police force, the government of former president, Rodrigo Duterte, started a deadly anti-drug war in 2016.

It damaged the image of the national police force with rights groups accusing police and state-backed vigilante groups of shooting thousands of suspected drug users and dealers in extrajudicial killings.

“I want the public to know that police officers have hearts. This is what I want to show in my work, in my service” he added.

As a police officer for seven years now, Busa labors hard so as not to tarnish his reputation.

“I want my legacy to be good. I ask and pray to God for me to have this job. I don’t want to disappoint him, as well,” he says.

“In my prayers, I always tell the Lord: ‘Make me an instrument to serve the community.’” 

“If God is watching, He will not allow evil to be successful. We, in law enforcement, are here to just do that: To protect people from evil,” he added.

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