First, the spirit of the process was not upheld in the final selection of the awardees. We concede that any subjective decision of this nature gives rise to a range of diverse views. What we cannot accept is the corruption of this already fraught process. The art community judiciously took part in this exercise, with the hope that an evenhanded process would produce truly worthy National Artists. This good faith in government has been subverted. It has made us distrust any effort to involve us in what may ultimately turn out to be a charade, or a farce in fact, and to regard the cultural bureaucracy as helplessly beholden to the contrivances of politicians and their courtiers.
Second, there was a demonstration of significant indiscretion, or even egregious imprudence, on the part of the officials who administered the awards. It was totally amiss—unethical, dishonest, morally bereft, and abusive—that those who oversaw the process ended up being honored and reaping the gains of their own auspice. We, therefore, deplore the utter contempt for the vital value of fairness in favor of personal ambitions of Sicilian proportions.
In light of these sentiments, we call for the immediate review of the law governing the National Artist awards and the rules that carry it out. We are specifically concerned about the power of the President, acting as a patron, to supersede the judgment of art’s public sphere and the unbecoming conduct of those in the civil service who are sworn to transcend conflicts of interest and defend democratic ideals.
Finally, as members of the community of scholars, we demand and expect the full commitment to integrity, excellence, and the tireless toil for the greater good.
National Artists deserve a process equal to their stature.
OFFICE FOR INITIATIVES IN CULTURE AND THE ARTS
University of the Philippines Diliman
Prof. RUBÉN D.F. DEFEO, Acting Director
Dean RAMÓN MA. G. ACOYMO, College of Music
Dean FLORENTINA P. COLAYCO, College of Fine Arts
Dean LEILANI L. GONZALO, College of Human Kinetics
Dean ADELAIDA V. MAYO, College of Home Economics
Dean ELENA R. MIRANO, College of Arts and Letters
Dean JOSÉ DANILO SILVESTRE, College of Architecture
Dean ROLANDO B. TOLENTINO, College of Mass Communication
Dr. PATRICK FLORES, College of Arts and Letters
Prof. CESAR A. HERNANDO, College of Fine Arts
Dr. GERARD REY A. LICO, College of Architecture
Prof. EVANGELINE T. ORTIZ, Asian Institute of Tourism
5 August 2009″