More than a hundred of the Philippines’ acclaimed visual artists expressed recently their strong stand against the return of the Marcoses and the Dutertes in Malacañang. In a statement published on Facebook, 112 recipients of the Cultural Center of the Philippines’ Thirteen Artists Awards over the last five decades said they are making a stand for freedom and democracy.
“That Marcos, Jr. and Sara Duterte are running for national office is alarming and enraging,” the group said. According to them, this move is a “mockery of the dignity of public service.”
The awardees, led by Benedicto Cabrera—or BenCab, National Artist and among the first recipients of the 13 Artists honor when the originally biennial awards began in 1970–criticized Marcos Jr.’s propaganda of historical denialism, which they said is “a grave insult to the thousands of victims who suffered under his father Ferdinand Marcos' regime.” They wrote: “Justice is yet to be served and billions still to be reclaimed from the Marcoses, who have not apologized, nor willingly returned ill-gotten wealth.”
According to the statement, Marcos Jr., who is running for the presidency in the 2022 polls, has “consistently lied to the public about his credentials, the tax-related criminal cases charged against him, and his father's dictatorial and corrupt legacy.”
They also decried the Dutertes’ attempt to stay in Malacañang, saying political dynasty has only proven to be beneficial to the families in power and their cronies. The artists moreover condemned the extra-judicial killings under the current administration’s war on drugs.
The group appealed to the Filipino public to vote for the right leaders in the upcoming 2022 elections—those “who will not incite nor condone violence, and have no record of corruption, in order to stop this culture of deception and impunity.”
The Thirteen Artists Awards was founded by the CCP as a way to give recognition to artists who have shown excellence in the practice of contemporary art. Among the past awardees who signed the statement are Danny Dalena, Jose Tence Ruiz, Charlie Co, Egai Fernandez, Julie Lluch, Elmer Borlongan, Jose Santos III, Geraldine Javier, Nona Garcia and Poklong Anading. From this year’s awardees, Allan Balisi, Geloy Concepcion, Ryan Villamael and Czar Kristoff are among the names that appear in the statement.
The group called on all Filipinos to be prudent in choosing the next leaders of the nation. They stressed five important qualifications: they must be leaders who will provide a clear, transparent, and humane response to the pandemic; they should be leaders who will address the issue of poverty, landlessness among farmers, oppressive wages and working conditions of workers and continuing unemployment; they must be leaders who will bring to justice all cases of corruption, negligence, gender-based violence, and human rights abuses; they should uphold the Filipinos’ basic human rights and sovereignty, including academic and press freedom; and they must be leaders who will reject martial law and all forms of authoritarian control.
“Filipinos must unite in fostering a culture of creativity, freedom, and progress,” the group stressed. “As artists we stand by our commitment and duty to create, to innovate, and to liberate. Only through our collective courage and creativity can we defeat the culture of destruction, greed, and servitude.”