‘Charges vs. effigy artist, an attack against free expression’ – artists, progressives

SONA 2023 (Photo by Carlo Manalansan / Bulatlat)


MANILA — Progressives decried the apparent harassment suit filed against visual artist Max Santiago and three other John Does over the burning of the effigy of Ferdinand Marcos Jr. in the last State of the Nation Address protest.

In the complaint, the Philippine police said Santiago violated environmental laws such as the Republic Act 9003 or the Ecological Waste Management Act of 2000 and the Republic Act 8749 or the Clean Air Act when an effigy of Marcos Jr. was burned during the protest action last State of the Nation Address.

This, the police said, was a “deliberate disrespect to the President and to our country” and later added that it “greatly contributed to air pollution.”

“It is well established that an effigy is a form of art. It is not solid waste: it is not garbage or refuse. It is hypocritical of the state to allege this when it cannot even address the problem of worsening traffic and its emissions, urban and industrial waste, and other government-regulated practices that contribute to environmental destruction,” Lisa Ito, secretary general of the Concerned Artists of the Philippines, said.

CAP added that the “emissions from an effigy burning are nothing compared to the criminal conduct and neglect of this administration.”

On Aug. 4, the Philippine police filed a certificate of extraction before its anti-cybercrime group on the Facebook Page of Film Weekly, an alternative news outfit in the country.

This is per the open-source intelligence of the police, where videos of the burning and creation of the effigy of Marcos Jr. was supposedly posted.

The police said that while peaceful protest is integral to democracy, “any form of protest should be conducted within the boundaries of the law and respect for the rights and safety of all individuals involved.

However, the police added that they found no social media account under the name of Santiago.

Santiago is a long-time cultural worker and visual artist. He was formerly with the cultural group Ugatlahi and editorial cartoonist for the online alternative Manila Today.

He also regularly contributes editorial cartoons to online alternative news Bulatlat.

In an earlier tweet, Bagong Alyansang Makabayan chair Renato Reyes called on the artist community to support Santiago, saying that “this is repression hiding behind feigned concern for the environment.”

Ito of CAP said, “this lawsuit is an attack on freedom of expression and right of the people to redress and expression of grievance. Why spend public resources on this just to save face when the realities that the effigy reflects and expresses remain unaddressed?”

The preliminary investigation is set on Sept. 5 and 12 at the prosecutor’s office of Quezon City. (DAA) (https://www.bulatlat.org)

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