The Concerned Artists of the Philippines (CAP) led by National Artist Bienvenido Lumbera over the weekend condemned the alleged censorship of a comic strip which insinuated that a prominent all-girls school condoned homosexuality.
CAP was referring to veteran cartoonist Pol Medina Jr.’s comic strip titled Pugad Baboy, which was published on the Philippine Daily Inquirer (PDI) on June 4.
PDI suspended Medina after drawing flak from St. Scholastica’s College, which threatened to file a lawsuit against the artist.
Lumbera, a National Artist for Literature, noted that PDI should have spoken for Medina instead of panicking and disowning the artist.
“Medina’s strip was directed in general at what he calls the hypocrisy of Catholic institutions that condemn homosexuality and discriminate against lesbians and gays. St. Scholastica’s College was cited only to give an example but is not the exclusive subject of the criticism,” Lumbera said.
Visual artist and CAP Spokesperson Renan Ortiz, for his part, argued that Medina does not deserve to be singled out for something that was partly beyond his control.
Medina has since decided to resign from the PDI as a result of the censorship, which Ortiz views as a bad sign of things to come.
“The Inquirer’s suspension and censorship of Pugad Baboy is a threat to freedom of expression. This can set a dangerous precedent for other publications and media institution under similar situations,” Ortiz pointed out.
“As a comic strip, Pugad Baboy did not deserve to be suspended on such grounds. For 20 years since 1988, it has served not only as a source of humor but also satire and relevant social commentary, such as critique against the Marcos dictatorship and other important issues,” Ortiz added.
The CAP is an organization of writers, artists and cultural workers committed to the principles of freedom, justice and democracy. It was founded in 1983 to unite Filipino artists against the dictatorial regime of then President Ferdinand Marcos who imposed repressive laws that curtailed freedom of expression.