MANILA, Philippines – President Benigno Aquino III’s hands are tied. He cannot give Rodolfo Quizon Sr. or “Dolphy” the National Artist Award because of a temporary restraining order (TRO) that the Supreme Court issued in 2009 against the conferment of the award to 4 controversial artists named by then President Gloria Macapagal- Arroyo.
Palace spokesperson Edwin Lacierda said Malacañang will leave it to the National Commission on Culture and the Arts (NCCA) and the Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP) to deal with the pending SC TRO and the calls to confer the award to Dolphy.
“We are not aware of how NCCA and CCP are going to act on account of the TRO issued by the Supreme Court,” he said.
The TRO was issued in 2009 following protests against the conferment of the award to fashion designer Pitoy Moreno, architect Bobby Manosa, director Carlo Caparas, and theatre actress Cecille Guidote-Alvarez. They were named by President Arroyo.
In April, various groups called on the SC to resolve it, but to no avail.
Dolphy has been repeatedly nominated for the Award, along with fellow entertainment icons Vilma Santos and Nora Aunor.
He is now in critical condition at the Makati Medical Center.
Respect the process
Lacierda said there is no question that the President believes Dolphy has contributed a lot to the entertainment and cultural industry.
“I spoke to the President this morning, and he personally believes that Dolphy has contributed immensely to the arts. In his words, he has contributed tremendously to what we call ‘art for man’s sake.’ Having said that, there is a process in selecting the national artist,” Lacierda said.
The selection of the National Artist awardees is a long and tedious process that should be free from politics, Lacierda said. The CCP recommends to the NCCA, which will formulate a list for the President to choose from.
“It is vetted, there’s a research that will look into the body of the particular artist that is being nominated. The CCP and the NCCA, the joint boards, will select from the list of nominees who are qualified to be a National Artist. And from that, it is recommended to the President,” Lacierda explained.
Accelerate the process?
Asked if Malacañang can ask the SC to act on the TRO, Lacierda said the process should be free from politics.
“Lest we be accused of encroaching on the powers of the Judiciary. I’m certain that the Supreme Court is fully aware of what’s going on. We do not need to remind. It’s up to them,” he said.
Lacierda dismissed talk that Dolphy’s connection to President Aquino’s rival in the 2010 elections—Senator Manny Villar—is the reason why Malacañang is not inclined to name him a National Artist.
“Wala na ’yon,” he said. “There is no relevance as to who Mr. Quizon endorsed during the campaign. You must remember, we already gave Dolphy an award last 2010,” Lacierda said.
Malacañang earlier awarded Dolphy the Grand Collar of the Order of the Golden Heart. – Rappler.com
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