MANILA -- Host Boy Abunda disagrees with the decision of President Benigno Aquino III to exclude Nora Aunor from the list of National Artists because of the actress's arrest over illegal drugs.
In his show "Aquino & Abunda Tonight" with co-host Kris Aquino, the youngest sister of the President, Abunda defended his stand that Aunor should be given the National Artist award.
"I totally respect the decision of the President but I humbly disagree with his decision. Dahil naniniwala po ako na si Nora Aunior ay deserving to be a National Artist and ;yung dahilan po na naibigay ng ating Presidente na had something to do with drugs, ayon kay (Claire) Espina ang abogado ni Ate Guy sa Amerika, hindi na-convict si Ate Guy," said Abunda, who confesses to be a fan of Aunor.
For her part, Aquino said her brother is standing by his decision.
"Ako ang masasabi ko lang, he stands by his decisions whether we agree with those decisions or not. Mayroon siyang paninindigan and that's what I want in a leader," she said.
Abunda agreed on this point.
"Tama. Sabi ko nga iginagalang ko pero I disagree with the decision of the President," he said. "Sana pagdating ng araw ay maamyendahan ang batas na ito. Ministerial ang trabaho ng Presidente dahil hindi naman talaga ito frield of expertise ng Presidente, 'yung pamimili ng National Artists halimbawa. Pero again it is in the law. But I really humbly disagree because I feel that Nora Aunor should be a National Artist based on her body of work, yun lamang po," Abunda said.
On Tuesday morning, President Aquino explained that he did not give Aunor the National Artist award because of drugs.
"Ang naging problema ko lang doon -- alam naman natin lahat na iginagalang ko ulit si Bb. Nora Aunor -- na-convict po siya sa drugs. Na-convict at naparusahan at ang tanong ngayon dito, pag ginawa ba nating National Artist may mensahe ba akong maliwanag na sinasabi sa sambayanan?" the President said.
"Ayokong magkaroon ng mensahe na kung minsan pwede iyong illegal na droga. Or acceptable."
However, in a statement to ABS-CBN News, Aunor's lawyer Atty. Claire Espina clarified that the actress was not convicted as there was no judgment in the case.
“Nora Aunor was never convicted. This is not accurate nor is it factual. There was a deferred judgment, which means there is no conviction because there is no judgment,” she said.
Ai Ai joins in
Meanwhile, more celebrities joined the chorus of Filipinos supporting Aunor.
The latest is comedienne Ai Ai delas Alas, who said Aunor deserves the recognition.
In an interview with ABS-CBN News and other reporters on Tuesday, Delas Alas cited the admission of the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA) that the veteran actress got the most number of votes in the nomination process.
“Hindi rin basehan kung anong personality or natsi-tsismis about you. I think ang pagiging basehan ng National Artist is kung ano 'yung na-contribute mo na art sa pagiging artista,” she said.
Noting Aunor’s body of work, Delas Alas said: “In fairness din kay Ate Guy, sa stature niya in show business, I think she’s the only superstar na natawag ng buong Pilipinas. Like Ate Vi (Vilma Santos), isa lang ang Star for all Seasons na meron tayo, and isa lang din ang merong Superstar na meron tayo. Respetuhin natin 'yung mga artistang nagpaligaya ng maraming taon sa Pilipinas, nag-inspire.”
The Order of National Artists was established under Proclamation No. 1001 (s. 1972) to give appropriate recognition and prestige to Filipinos who have distinguished themselves and made outstanding contributions to Philippine arts and letters.
It is the highest national recognition given to Filipino individuals who have made significant contributions to the development of Philippine arts and letters.
The latest set of National Artists, as declared by Malacanang, includes Alice Reyes for Dance Francisco Coching (Posthumous) for Visual Arts, Cirilo Bautista for Literature. Francisco Feliciano for Music, Ramon Santos for Music, and Jose Maria Zaragoza (posthumous) for Architecture, Design, and Allied Arts. - With reports from Mario Dumaual, ABS-CBN News, and Yong Chavez, ABS-CBN North America News Bureau