Superstar Nora Aunor. File photo
MANILA – The Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP) on Thursday said it respects President Benigno Aquino III’s decision on the country’s new National Artists, which did not include veteran actress Nora Aunor.
Several netizens and a number of celebrities recently protested the controversial exclusion of Aunor in the list of new National Artists.
The actress has been shortlisted for the award by the National Commission on Culture and the Arts (NCCA) and the CCP.
According to Emily Abrera, chairman of the CCP board, they recognized the contributions of Aunor and the rest of the nominees.
But in a statement released on Thursday, she was quoted as saying that the President’s approval is an important part of the process of declaring a National Artist.
“Obviously, the artists we recommended are those whose contributions to the field of culture and the arts are genuinely outstanding and unassailable. While we had hoped that they would all be conferred the honor, the President’s approval is part of the process. Ultimately, the CCP respects that,” Abrera said.
The CCP statement also noted that this "presidential authority to affirm or not affirm the recommendations was vested in the 2013 Supreme Court ruling that disallowed a set of National Artists named by former president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo which had not undergone the deliberation and selection process."
The National Artists proclaimed last June 20 include Cirilo F. Bautista (Literature), Francisco Coching (Visual Arts), Francisco Feliciano (Music), Alicia Garcia Reyes (Dance), Ramon P. Santos (Music) and Jose Maria Zaragoza (Architecture, Design and Allied Arts).
The CCP said three others who were proclaimed in 2009 -- Federico Aguilar Alcuaz, Manuel Conde, and Lazaro Francisco -- will be included in the conferment ceremony to be held at Malacañang, and the traditional Tribute held at the CCP.
Meanwhile, NCCA chairman Felipe M. de Leon Jr. has written a letter to the President dated June 23, saying: "We are happy that we have a new set of National Artists."
De Leon also blamed the media for putting words into his mouth.
"Passions are running high because of the non-inclusion of Nora Aunor on the list of newly proclaimed national artists. And in the fierce competition for a scoop, the media snoops and scribes have gone overboard with their investigations and reporting of the circumstances regarding the awards. The thrill of the hunt has caused them to lose restraint and respect for truth in their accounts," he said.
"What I expressed to the press people was just sadness at the non-inclusion of Ms. Aunor. But their penchant for media hype has led them to gross exaggerations. I said I simply lamented the results but the wording was changed to 'vehement objection,' tinutuligsa or slamming Malacanang for its decision. None of these were stated by NCCA or any of its officials. Rest assured that we have always understood that the final decision when it comes to the National Artist award is in your office,” he added.