Nora Aunor not convicted of drug use
MANILA (UPDATED) - President Aquino has finally answered questions on why he excluded multi-awarded actress Nora Aunor from the list of National Artists.
Speaking to reporters, Aquino said he removed Aunor from the list because the latter was convicted for using illegal drugs.
"For the record, iyong tatay ko, isa sa mga fans ni Nora Aunor at pati ako humahanga sa naabot niya. Nagtitinda sa bus station nung araw. Napunta dun sa Tawag ng Tanghalan at mula dun siya ay naging Superstar. Singular Superstar."
"Noong humarap sa akin itong mga nominations, isa lang naman ang tanong: Ano ba ang titulo? National Artist. At sa aking pananaw, iyong National Artist iyong binibigyan natin ng honor na ito, puri na ganito, dahil gusto natin sabihin malaki ang inambag sa lahing Pilipino at dapat tularan."
"Ang naging problema ko lang doon, alam naman natin lahat na iginagalang ko ulit si Binibining 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?"
However, contrary to Aquino's statement, Aunor was never convicted of drug charges, her lawyer said.
In a statement to ABS-CBN News, Atty. Claire Espina clarified that Aunor did not have a drug conviction in America, adding that there was no judgment in her 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.
In 2005, Aunor was arrested at Los Angeles Airport when drug paraphernalia were discovered in a bag with her name.
According to Espina, the bag was not even packed by the actress herself.
Aunor was traveling with four companions when she was detained. After facing the charges in a Los Angeles court, Aunor completed a diversion program and the case was dismissed in 2007.
Espina said she hopes that after this clarification, there will be no more inaccuracies being reported about Aunor's case.
DRUG SYNDICATES IN PH
Aquino, meanwhile, said illegal drug use is a growing problem in the country, with Mexican and West African drug syndicates trying to set up operations locally.
He said choosing Aunor, who was convicted for drug use, as a National Artist would send the wrong message.
"Ayokong magkaroon ng mensahe na kung minsan pwede iyong illegal na droga. Or acceptable. Iyong dapat iyong mensahe: it is always bad and illegal drugs do nobody any good...Kung ginawa ko siyang National Artist, may kabilang panig namang magsasabing: 'Paano siya as a role model?'"
"Ginagalang ko siya, kinikilala ko iyong kanyang trabaho at saka mga obra pero ang problema ko, mukhang mas mataas iyong prayoridad na maliwanag na may mensahe iyong droga zero tolerance tayo dito. Mali all the time."
Malacanang earlier named the next set of National Artists. They are:
Alice Reyes - Dance
Francisco Coching (Posthumous) - Visual Arts
Cirilo Bautista - Literature
Francisco Feliciano - Music
Ramon Santos - Music
Jose Maria Zaragoza (Posthumous) - Architecture, Design, and Allied Arts
NORA HURT BY AQUINO'S DECISION
Aunor has thanked those who continue to support her. She, however, admitted that she was hurt by the President's decision.
"Inaamin ko pong nasaktan ako sa mga nangyari. Pero ang dagsa ng suporta na nakita ko at naramdaman mula sa aking mga kababayan, mga katrabaho ko sa industriya, mga fans at mga kaibigan, mga pari at madre, mga guro at iba pang taga-akademya, mga taga-media, mga National Artists, mga pangkaraniwang mamamayan dito at sa ibang bansa, ay sapat-sapat na upang maramdaman kong maski wala mang tropeo o karangalang igawad sa akin ang mga nasa kapangyarihan, iniluklok naman ako ng mga kababayan ko habang buhay sa kanilang mga puso bilang isang artista ng bayan,” she added.
Aunor, who is dubbed as the country's superstar by her fans, said she would rather not dwell on the fact that she was not proclaimed a National Artist.
“Para sa akin po ay mas totoo at mas masarap ang karangalang ito dahil taus-pusong nanggagaling sa mga taong siyang dahilan kung bakit ako nagpapakabuti bilang isang artista -- ang mga mamamayang Pilipino,” she said.
According to the National Commission on the Culture and the Arts (NCCA), which recommends prospective national artists for proclamation by the President, the following are the criteria for selection of National Artists:
1. Living artists who are natural-born Filipino citizens at the time of nomination, as well as those who died after the establishment of the award in 1972 but were Filipino citizens at the time of their death. Filipinos who have lost and re-acquired Filipino citizenship, through dual citizenship status for at least the minimum period of five years shall be eligible for nomination.
2. Artists who through the content and form of their works have contributed in building a Filipino sense of nationhood.
3. Artists who have pioneered in a mode of creative expression or style, thus, earning distinction and making an impact on succeeding generations of artists.
4. Artists who have created a substantial and significant body of works and/or consistently displayed excellence in the practice of their art form thus enriching artistic expression or style.
5. Artists who enjoy broad acceptance through: prestigious national and/or international recognition, such as the Gawad CCP Para sa Sining, CCP Thirteen Artists Award and NCCA Alab ng Haraya; critical acclaim and/or reviews of their works; respect and esteem from peers.
National Artists get the following benefits:
1. The rank and title of National Artist, as proclaimed by the President of the Philippines;
2. The National Artist gold-plated medallion minted by the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) and citation ;
3. Lifetime emolument and material and physical benefits comparable in value to those received by the highest officers of the land such as: a minimum cash award of P200,000, net of taxes for living awardees and a minimum cash award of P150,000, net of taxes for posthumous awardees, payable to legal heir/s; a minimum lifetime personal monthly stipend of P30,000; life insurance coverage; state funeral benefit not exceeding P500,000; a place of honor, in line with protocular precedence, in state functions, national commemoration ceremonies and all other cultural presentations;.
The Order of the National Artist Award was established under Proclamation No. 1001 dated April 27, 1972 to give appropriate recognition and prestige to Filipinos who have distinguished themselves and made outstanding contributions to Philippine arts and letters.
The first award was conferred posthumously later that year on Fernando Amorsolo.
The Order of National Artists aims to recognize:
1. Filipino artists who have made significant contributions to the cultural heritage of the country.
2. Filipino artistic accomplishment at its highest level and to promote creative expression as significant to the development of a national cultural identity.
3. Filipino artists who have dedicated their lives to their works to forge new paths and directions for future generations of Filipino artists.
- With reports by RG Cruz, ABS-CBN News; Yong Chavez, ABS-CBN North America News Bureau