“Aquino’s flimsy logic and arrogant moralism are not enough bases to withhold the award that Aunor deserves as an artist.” – Concerned Artists of the Philippines
By MARYA SALAMAT
MANILA — President Benigno Aquino III finally broke his silence on his reason for delisting acclaimed actress, singer Nora Aunor from those declared as National Artists.
Aquino yesterday said that giving the award would send the “wrong message to the nation” as she was allegedly convicted for using illegal drugs. Aunor’s legal counsel, however, clarified that Nora was not convicted for drug use or abuse in California and that the drug charges against her were dismissed in 2007.
In a statement, the Concerned Artists of the Philippines (CAP) denounced today President Aquino’s witholding the National Artist Award to film actress and singer Nora Aunor and his supposed basis, Aunor’s alleged drug conviction.
“Aquino’s flimsy logic and arrogant moralism are not enough bases to withhold the award that Aunor deserves as an artist. He owed Aunor and the Filipino people an explanation for his silence, and now his only stated reason is found wanting in substance,” CAP spokesperson and visual artist Renan Ortiz said.
Ortiz added that Aunor has endured and in fact prevailed over many trials she has encountered as an artist and as a citizen.
CAP told Aquino that if he really wanted to send the right message against illegal drugs, then his administration should show concrete results instead by catching and jailing the big fish who are coddling and conniving with the foreign drug syndicates. Ortiz pointed out that Aquino himself is hardly a paragon of morals, given that his administration “has been preoccupied with illegal and unconstitutional initiatives such as the Disbursement Acceleration Program while mouthing token statements against zero tolerance for corruption and patronage politics.”
Reform in choosing National Artist sought
With the latest controversy involving another “capricious display of politicking,” more reasons bolster calls to reform the National Artist Award selection process, particularly with regard to the question of presidential intervention. Ortiz proposed that legal loopholes, which hold the awards hostage to the whims of the Philippine president and of patronage politics, should be examined and done away with for good.
CAP also called on the lawmakers to act quickly on the matter, as Aquino’s actions, which, they said, were no different from that of his predecessors like Arroyo, are “eroding public faith in the process and devaluing the importance that the National Artist Award should have for the Filipino people.”
In withholding the National Artist Award for Aunor, President Aquino, said Ortiz, has demonstrated neither better morals nor incredibly high standards for what is art. According to Ortiz of CAP, “Aunor’s critically-acclaimed work as an actress has also yielded some of the most important moments in Philippine film history, which constitute our heritage. The masses admire Aunor because her performances are not only stellar; they also effectively portrayed social realities and experiences of the people long marginalised by an elite few, who are represented by the likes of Aquino the haciendero President and dynastic heir,” Ortiz said.
The CAP is an organization of writers, artists and cultural workers committed to the principles of freedom, justice and democracy. It was founded in 1983 to unite Filipino artists against the Marcos dictatorship and its repressive laws which curtailed freedom of expression.