MANILA, Philippines – Malacañang has released the list of new National Artists late Friday night, June 20, but one name was noticeably missing, film superstar Nora Aunor, a multi-awarded actress who starred in critically acclaimed films such as “Himala” and “Thy Womb.”
Last week, President Benigno Aquino III named six new National Artists including Alice Reyes (Dance), Francisco Coching (Visual Arts), Cirilo Bautista (Literature), Francisco Feliciano (Music), Ramon Santos (Music) and Jose Maria Zaragoza (Architecture, Design and Allied Arts).
However, Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma said that “The President has the prerogative to approve all or none, without needing to explain.”
Meanwhile, the proclamation did not surprise Emily Abrera, chair of the CCP board, who told the Inquirer that she was informed about the final decision last Friday.
Abrera agreed with Coloma that the President doesn’t have to explain anything.
Rumors have swirled that Aunor was dropped from the list because of morality issues and her drug case in the U.S. a few years ago.
However, Trixie Angeles, NCCA’s legal counsel, said via GMA Network that Aunor’s past drug issues, as well as her reported tax evasion case in the United States, shouldn’t have been held against the actress in her bid for the National Artist award.
Angeles, however, admitted that the president’s move did not violate any law.
It can be recalled that in 2009, the proclamation of National Artists became controversial as well when then President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo dropped Ramon Santos, nominee for music, from the list submitted by the Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP) and National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA).
-Klyte Faye Veloso
LNU ABCom Intern