Proclamation order for new National Artists already signed by President
Philippine Daily Inquirer / 02:47 AM June 09, 2014
President Benigno Aquino has already signed the order proclaiming a new set of National Artists as early as two months ago, reliable sources says, but the National Artist Secretariat under National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA) has not received from Malacañang the order.
It is NCCA that organizes with Malacañang the ceremonies to proclaim new National Artists.
The ceremonies are usually held around June 12 as one of the events, like the traditional vin d’honneur for the diplomatic corps, that are usually held to mark Independence or Philippine National Day.
The sources say the President has signed all of the proclamation orders of those elected by the joint board of the NCCA and Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP)—save for one artist.
The apparent veto, say sources, was based on the recommendation of the Malacañang Honors Committee, which screens nominees to state awards.
No to Nora
Earlier, Coconuts Manila, an online news magazine, reported that “prospects may have dimmed for actress Nora Aunor becoming National Artist, with President Aquino reportedly set to proclaim any time soon the new set of National Artists after (a long) delay.”
“Malacañang has balked from elevating the actress to the honor because of ‘moral issues’ against her, particularly her alleged drug use and her arrest in the United States several years ago over drug possession.”
Aunor, too, has tax problems, Coconuts Manila added.
Presidential veto of National Artists voted by the NCCA-CCP is allowed by the Supreme Court.
In its July 2013 decision voiding the proclamation by former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo of four National Artists who were not on the original list of the CCP-NCCA, the Supreme Court upheld Arroyo’s act of dropping composer Ramon Santos despite his election.
The high court said the election was a “nomination” and was “not binding” to the President but “only discretionary.”
But Arroyo’s inclusion of four artists not on the original list— komiks artist and B-movie director Carlo J. Caparas, theater artist Cecille Guidote Alvarez, architect Francisco Mañosa, and fashion designer Jose “Pitoy” Moreno—was a “grave abuse of discretion” since the four did not pass muster in the nomination process set by the law.
The court, however, did not find anything wrong with Arroyo dropping Santos from the list.
Power of control
“By the power of control, the President had the authority to alter or modify or nullify or set aside such recommendation or power. It was well within the President’s power and discretion to proclaim all, or some or even none of the recommendees of the CCP and NCCA boards, without having to justify his or her action,” the high court ruled.
The rule has reportedly been applied to Aunor, whose election is said to have caused some unease in certain sectors of Malacañang, especially since National Artists are given special public regard in state functions.
In 2005, Aunor was arrested in California for illegal drug possession. The case was dismissed by a Los Angeles court after she performed community service and underwent an 18-month rehabilitation program. Lito B. Zulueta