NOT a few of Nora Aunor’s supporters continue to blame President Aquino for playing politics after he recently chose to exclude her name from this year’s list of nominees for National Artist submitted by the joint boards of the Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP) and the National Commission for Culture and the Arts.
Well, so what? Is there any activity involving the government that’s immune to politics? Even private organizations, from the biggest companies down to the lowliest cooperatives, aren’t bereft of politics. Why are we making such an innate human trait sound so disgusting?
Even Felipe de Leon, NCCA chair, proved himself, in a series of reports that came out earlier in the Philippine Daily Inquirer, unable to rise above it.
Summoning up Noranians
During the initial stages of the controversy, de Leon, according to a report, “encouraged Aunor’s supporters to start a campaign and ‘write to the President to appeal for a reconsideration. Concerned groups should initiate this move. Even a President can change his mind.’”
At sinangkalan pa ang taongbayan!
Perhaps realizing that he’s also part of government by virtue of his position at NCCA, de Leon shifted gears a few days later by writing a letter to the President to say once and for all that he respects his boss’ decision.
This time, he put the blame on “media snoops and scribes” for fanning the controversy. De Leon, who, days ago, was close to asking the President pointblank to explain his decision, now accused journalists for having gone “overboard with their investigations and reporting of the circumstances regarding the awards.”
That’s what reporters get for doing their jobs! And this came from a guy who encouraged Noranians to throw a national tantrum until P-Noy would cave in to their demands. What was the big fuss all about?
Inspire and bring honor
To those who aren’t familiar with the National Artist award, it’s a remnant of President Ferdinand Marcos’ dictatorship and its efforts to recognize the country’s outstanding artists for inspiring fellow Filipinos and bringing honor to the Philippines through their unassailable body of work in whatever field they’re in.
It’s clear in the law that although the President can exclude any nominees submitted to him by NCCA and CCP, he can’t add any names to the final list like what President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo did a few years ago. Remember the Carlo J. Caparas-Cecile Guidote fiasco?
Clearly, this time there was no grave abuse of power involved like some reporters, columnists and Noranians would want us to believe.
Instead, the President was simply exercising his prerogative. In fact, there’s nothing in the law that requires him to justify or explain his decision.
Still, they didn’t stop. Conspiracy theorists came up with all sorts of haka-haka—from P-Noy being pissed off by the Superstar’s face because she reminds him of GMA (down to the mole), to his being partial to Vilma Santos, Aunor’s archrival.
Certain Aunor partisans did the opposite. They tried to appeal to the President’s emotions by harping on the fact that the actress was once an admirer of P-Noy’s dad, slain Marcos opposition leader Ninoy Aquino.
Talk about desperation. They even unearthed an old picture of the two together when their paths crossed in the West Coast sometime in 1983. No dice!
Well, to put the matter to rest, the President has finally spoken yesterday. By doing the unprecedented, he confirmed once and for all what was on many people’s minds.
Much as P-Noy admired and respected Aunor’s many talents and achievements as a performer as well as her inspiring rags-to-riches story, he couldn’t in conscience give the honor to the multi-awarded actress because of her past (and continuing?) episodes of drug addiction.
He didn’t touch on Aunor’s checkered private life and her other supposedly more costly addiction: spending long hours in the casino.
“In my opinion, those being given the honor of National Artist are those who had a huge contribution to the Philippines and should serve as role models,” he said in Filipino.
“My only problem with Nora Aunor’s nomination is that she was convicted of illegal drugs,” he said, referring to the actress’ arrest at LAX almost a decade ago for drug possession. “The message here is drugs are bad. I can not emphasize that enough.”
In the same Philippine Daily Inquirer report, drug paraphernalia and a considerable amount of methamphetamine hydrochloride (shabu) were allegedly found in Aunor’s carry-on bag while undergoing X-ray.
The actress was reportedly cleared of the charges in 2007 after she complied with the court’s condition that she go on a six-month drug rehabilitation program.
Her lawyer, according to the same report, was quick to point out that she was never convicted.
Was P-Noy justified in using his presidential prerogative to withhold such an honor to Aunor? Well, the jury is still out, but an earlier reaction of lawyer Trixie Cruz-Angeles, NCCA legal counsel, should be worth considering.
I’m lifting liberally from a Philippine Daily Inquirer report that came out on June 24.
“The committee on honors, in confirming the choices of the joint boards of the CCP-NCCA, needed to check two things: ‘The process was completed and that the nominee is of good standing.’
“The term ‘good standing,’ like ‘good moral character,’ is subject to interpretation and its definition can evolve with changes in society, she (Angeles) said.”
That, my fellow Filipinos, was how P-Noy interpreted the law with regards to the rather curious case involving Nora Aunor. There’s no need to go ballistic. The fellow was just exercising his presidential prerogative.
And no matter who sits in Malacañang, the National Artist award will continue to be subject to interpretation and, yes, politics as long as the power to confer it is left with the president.
Shall we move on to more pressing concerns?
For all we know, those greedy Chinese are now building an amusement park-slash-casino in the middle of the West Philippine Sea. And, oh, did you check on your supply of rice and garlic? Prices of basic commodities are bound to shoot up even further should another supertyphoon of Yolanda magnitude hits us tomorrow.
Yes, there are no miracles (walang himala!) waiting to save us should these events come to pass.