Retired CJ Puno: Planet needs healing
“Our planet today is in terrible turmoil and disarray, and needs healing.”
Retired Chief Justice Renato S. Puno emphasized this saying experts have concluded that “global warming, excessive population growth, water shortages, destruction of life in the ocean, mass famine in ill-organized countries, the spread of diseases, the spread of pandemics, extreme poverty, the growth of shanty cities, the unstoppable global migration, non-state actors with extreme weapons of massive destruction, violent religious extremism, run-away computer intelligence and a war that could end civilization” are the primary causes of these turmoil and disarray.
As the meditation speaker during the Silliman University (SU) and Wesleyan University-Philippines’ joint “National Prayer Breakfast for Education Institutions” on February 13, 2021, Puno said that “undeniably, a 2020 vision of the Philippines will reveal that all these 14 facts and factors are devastating our landscape hence a landscape that needs restoration, a landscape that needs healing.”
However, Puno specifically focused on “how Covid-19 is wrecking our land and how it is putting into high risk our people’s expectation to a decent future, at the very least.”
He cited statistics showing how the pandemic is “crushing” the Philippine economy, which resulted in a gross domestic product growth of negative 9.5 percent in 2020 and the loss of jobs for 3.8 million Filipinos.
The prices of commodities, he said, are “soaring” as the country faces a food crisis.
However, amid all these, the retired chief justice said 2 Chronicles 7:14 “tells us what man should do for the Lord to heal our land: Humble ourselves, pray, seek his face and turn from our wicked ways.”
Commission on Higher Education Chief Prospero E. De Vera III who also offered his prayer during the event, said “this event is therefore the perfect occasion for us to gather to praise and honor God and to thank Him for all what we have achieved together despite the pandemic.”
De Vera admits that “it was indeed a season of hope for all of us, and we all know that we could not have generated all these blessings and good news without the hand of God. He led us to make good, oftentimes positive, sometimes meaningful out of a difficult and very challenging time.”
Dr. Leonor Briones, secretary of the Department of Education, for her part said she is “honored to be part of the breakfast prayer because the role of educational institutions cannot just be ignored or put aside in our efforts at this time to deal with terrible pandemic.”
Dr. Briones added that educational institutions, along with the church and the family, play a major role in shaping learners’ minds in teaching them critical thinking, preparing them for survival, and “what awaits them when they finish schooling.”
Meanwhile, SU President Dr. Betty Cernol McCann said educational institutions have “done what [they] could do” in facing the challenges associated with the pandemic to continue their service to the nation.
“Now more than ever, we need to bond in fellowship and prayer to plead for continued counsel, for guidance, and to obtain wisdom from our great Master Teacher. Let our prayers ring and let our hearts and minds be open to God’s leading,” said McCann.
The breakfast prayer was participated by member institutions of the Philippine Association of Colleges and Universities, the Catholic Educational Association of the Philippines, the Philippine Accrediting Association of Schools, Colleges and Universities, the Association of Christian Schools, Colleges and Universities, the Philippine Association of State Universities and Colleges, the Philippine Association of Methodist Schools, Colleges, Universities and Seminaries, and the Asia-Pacific Association of Methodist-related Educational Institutions.