FREDDIE Aguilar is possibly the greatest singer-songwriter in Tagalog the Filipinos have seen in the past three generations.
If it were a newly released song that deejays (even without payola) love to play over and over again, Freddie Aguilar’s latest production, which columnists and newscasters have given hit-level exposure, should be called “Anak ng P…!”
The Coconuts MNL website, which seems to be produced and written by a pro-Duterte and Pro-Aguilar group, said in an article titled “Duterte wants singer Freddie Aguilar to head NCCA” posted on July 15:
“The ‘Anak’ hitmaker is one of Duterte’s favorite local singers. He praised how Aguilar expresses his love for the country through his songs.
“That guy is a nationalist,” Duterte said in an earlier news conference. “His love of country shows in the way he uses his songs, which are always about corruption and what ails this country: social injustice.”
We agree with the President about Freddie’s patriotism and advocacy of virtues and values in his songs.
But Freddie unwittingly produced a new hit which should be titled “Anak ng P…” He created it, again unwittingly, when he announced and then affirmed to interviewers that he had, indeed, been offered—by President Duterte through a key aide—the headship of the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA). The present NCCA chairman of the board of commissioners is the writer, scholar, musical director and professor Mr. Felipe de Leon, Jr. He is very highly respected as an artist and cultural worker by the international and Philippine artistic, cultural affairs and academic communities.
After Freddie’s claim caused a controversy, he said, in an Aksyon Tonite (TV5) interview, that he had not asked Duterte for any position in the NCCA. What he did was suggest and implore the President to create a Cabinet department for culture and the arts. Presumably, his friends in the Palace presumed that he wanted to be made secretary of the proposed new Cabinet department. But, Aguilar narrates, he ended up being mentioned as the head of NCCA because, “Ito kasi ang kahilingan ng ating mahal na pangulo, habang hinihintay po natin na mabuo ‘yung departamento ay sinabihan po niya ako kung papayag po muna ako kung pamunuan ko ang NCCA (This was the wish of the President. While we’re waiting for the creation of Department of Culture and the Arts, he asked me if I would like to head the NCCA).” We owe to BusinessWorld this quotation. It is from the report by Camille M. Arcilla titled “NCCA denies appointment of musician Freddie Aguilar as head.”
The whole thing has become an embarrassment because queries to Malacañang about the publicized appointment have been met with “no information on that subject.”
And the NCCA itself has denied that its chairman, Prof. Felipe M. de Leon, Jr., has been replaced. For he cannot be replaced legally through the appointment of someone by the President.
For the position of NCCA chairman is not appointive. Republic Act 7356, which creates the NCCA as a body independent from political manipulation by office and power holders, requires the chairman to be elected by the Board of Commissioners.
And commissioners are also elected by their artist and cultural worker-peers—at a general assembly, at a committee to which a member belongs as dictated by his or her artistic and cultural field, and among committee officers, those who are to head sub-commissions that have been formed again based on artistic and cultural disciplines.
The NCCA is possibly the only government body in our country that has been allowed by its bylaws to be fiercely independent. And that should be preserved.
A Department of Culture and the Arts, as proposed by Freddie, would be an extension of whoever happens to be the President of the Philippines. In the Philippine manner of running things, we cannot see it functioning as autonomously as the NCCA.
But Duterte must be so grateful to Freddie. So we can foresee the new Department of Culture and the Arts being formed and its first-ever chief will be Secretary Freddie Aguilar.