Culture of Corruption in the Culture Commission

Posted by Bulatlat
Vol. VII, No. 32, September 16-22, 2007

The National Commission on Culture and the Arts (NCCA) is the lead agency for policy making on culture and the arts. It is also the administrator of the more than P1-billion National Endowment Fund for Culture and the Arts (NEFCA). Section 4 of the law which created the NCCA, Republic Act No. 7356, reads… “The Filipino national culture shall be: a) independent, free of political and economic structures which inhibit cultural sovereignty…”

It is on this note that the Concerned Artists of the Philippines (CAP) express indignation over Malacañang’s control and manipulation of the NCCA.

NCCA Executive Director Ms. Cecile Guidote-Alvarez is also the Presidential Assistant on Culture and, therefore, biased in favor of her immediate boss’s political interest. A glaring example is the 2005 NCCA-sponsored culture summit with the theme “Breaking the Cycle of Corruption and Poverty,” which featured mostly resource speakers from government — supremely ironic as they are primarily answerable for corruption and poverty.

CAP opposes Malacañang’s “letter of desire” to have Education Undersecretary Vilma Labrador elected by the NCCA Board as the new Chairman. Undersecretary Labrador faces cases with the Ombudsman on shady deals concerning misappropriation of funds.

CAP believes that the Chairman should best represent the principles of transparency and accountability so that the culture of corruption will not invade the culture commission. However, because majority of the NCCA Board of Commissioners are representatives from government institutions and because of the culture of “Hello, Garci…,” we have no illusion that the “desire” will be turned down.

The NCCA structure is now being manipulated such that the representation of the non-government cultural sector in the commission is decreased, thus diminishing its policy- and decision-making capabilities.

This is more than enough reason for CAP to remain in the midst of the struggle to uphold the spirit by which the NCCA was created: that culture should be of the People, by the People, and for the People. Posted by Bulatlat

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