MANILA -- The stripping of film director Carlos Caparas and three others of the National Artist award does not mean they are already banned from seeking the same in the future, the Supreme Court clarified.
In a 32-page decision released only last week, the high court said the nullification of the 2009 National Artist proclamations of Caparas, former National Commission on Culture and Arts (NCCA) Cecille Guidote-Alvarez, fashion designer Jose “Pitoy” Moreno and architect Francisco Mañosa does not mean they are already barred from seeking the award.
"While the Court invalidates today the proclamation of respondents Guidote-Alvarez, Caparas, Mañosa and Moreno as National Artists, such action should not be taken as a pronouncement on whether they are worthy to be conferred that honor," read the unanimous ruling penned by Associate Justice Teresita Leonardo-De Castro.
The high court clarified it only declared invalid Proclamation Nos. 1826 to 1829, which covered all four.
“Nothing in this Decision should be read as a disqualification on the part of respondents Guidote-Alvarez, Caparas, Mañosa and Moreno to be considered for the honor of National Artist in the future, subject to compliance with the laws, rules and regulations governing said award," the high court stressed.
Meanwhile, the high court also noted the recommendations of the NCCA and the Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP) are not binding on the president.
Besides the proclamation of the four, then President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo also feted the award to Lazaro Francisco (posthumous for literature), Manuel Conde (posthumous for film and broadcast) and Federico Aguilar Alcuaz (visual arts, painting, sculpture and mixed media). Their respective proclamations were not covered by an earlier halt order by the high court.
She, however, excluded Dr. Ramon Santos (music) from the list of recommendations.
"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 the NCCA Boards, without having to justify his or her action. Thus, the exclusion of Santos did not constitute grave abuse of discretion on the part of the former President," it added.
The proclamations of Caparas and the three others were questioned by artists and culture experts and analysts, including National Artist for Literature Virgilio Almario.