United for justice and peace

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The invitation reads: “… We again are called as one community of the faith who must also do our solemn duty to unite in prayer as we face the pandemic that has caused sufferings and uncertainties; for our public servants to be on the side of justice; and for the conversion and a change of heart in all of us.”I am a Catholic, a Filipino, and a business executive.

I am writing today in support of our Catholic Church community that is once again left with no choice but to stand up for truth and justice and, more importantly, for the oppressed. Our Church is once again calling us all to prayer and action as part of our mission to care for the sick, the hungry, and the desperate.

I enjoin all my fellow Christian brothers and sisters to heed this call for prayer and unity in action, as a crisis of the proportion of this COVID-19 pandemic does indeed demand no less than a united response made even more potent by God’s mercy and grace.

Hence, we all must pray and we all must act.

Every business endeavor, big and small, for profit or as social enterprise, here and abroad, is extremely hard hit by this pandemic. Some are letting people go, unable to pay wages, while others are simply shutting down for good to stop the bleeding.

The long and short of it is that people are losing jobs and once lucrative enterprises are shutting down. And it is not just individuals and their families who are affected, but whole communities dependent on livelihoods organized around the free movement of goods across towns and cities and provinces and even global borders. Where in the past we could always count on our overseas workers and our seafarers to support our economy, now they, too, are victims and many are returning home, jobless and increasingly desperate.

The impact has been very clear, and the initial sacrifices were bearable as we all united behind saving lives first. How we navigate through this storm and emerge victorious depends on leadership from government that should enable our business, academe, religious, and media sectors to do their part with urgency and full-throttle commitment.

How our nation’s attention has been diverted so many times since this pandemic began from what truly matters for us to save lives and save jobs and livelihoods, by the same leaders who we expect to lead the united charge against COVID-19, is simply and extraordinarily incomprehensible.

We joined other sectors in appealing for the deferral of the enactment of the anti-terrorism legislation, precisely to avoid distraction and disunity and to allow for genuine consultation and widespread discussion. And we prayed that our leaders would avoid divisiveness and demonstrate fairness and respect for our Constitution and the rule of law in dealing with fundamental issues of freedom of expression in the ABS-CBN franchise renewal and the Maria Ressa libel case. But our pleas fell sadly on deaf ears.

We appealed, we prayed—for statesmanship and effective leadership. We looked for unifying guidance in freeing our country from the claws of the pandemic to allow us to safely restart our economy, save jobs and livelihoods, reopen our schools. We appealed to our leaders to find means to do much much more to assist the millions of our countrymen who are losing their livelihood and their means of supporting their families. But our leaders sadly have other priorities.

And so we again turn to prayer. And I invite all to stand with our Church as we once again link arms and, in unity, pray for our country at the Holy Mass for Justice and Peace on July 27 at 12:15 p.m., broadcast live on TV Maria and Radio Veritas and livestreamed on FB pages of Catholic schools and organizations. Because Most Reverend Bishop Broderick Pabillo recently tested COVID-19-positive, he won’t preside as planned, but his message will be read out for him.

With deep conviction, let us join our Church in reminding our leaders of their grave responsibilities as public servants, as we pray for them and affirm our support for the genuine people-oriented health and economic recovery programs that they must urgently implement.

Ramon R. del Rosario Jr. is a trustee of the Makati Business Club.

Business Matters is a project of the Makati Business Club (makatibusinessclub@mbc.com.ph).

Posted on 25 July 2020 under Business Matters section of The Philippine Daily Inquirer