THE National Historical Commission of the Philippines (NHCP), not the Manila city government, was the one that allowed the putting up of a statue to Filipino “comfort women,” an official said on Friday.
Jojo Alcovendaz, city administrator, was reacting to a statement made by Malacañang spokesman Harry Roque, who had said a planned removal of the statue is an issue that could be raised with Manila Mayor Joseph Estrada.
“The city goverment of Manila has nothing to do with the ‘comfort women’ statue, they [proponents]just asked for space, we just provided it to them,” Alcovendaz said in a telephone interview with The Manila Times.
“The city’s main role here was to provide them with a place where they can unveil the statue,” he added.
The NHCP, as the approving authority, allowed Tulay Foundation to install the statue.
“We told them [Tulay Foundation] to get the necessary approval from the different national government agencies because this has international implications. But since the NHCP was involved, I thought the national government already approved it,” Alcovendaz said.
The historical marker, which includes a 2.1-meter statue of a blindfolded woman with a shawl covering her head and with both hands clutching her clothes to her chest, was unveiled on December 8, 2017 on a promenade along Roxas Boulevard near the Japanese Embassy.
It was commissioned by Tulay Foundation, a group of Chinese-Filipinos based in Manila, and done by artist Jonas Roces as a tribute to the Filipino women who were forced into sexual servitude by Japanese occupation forces in the Second World War.
The statue raised hackles at the Japanese Embassy, which was said to have asked the Department of Foreign Affairs and the Manila city government for explanations.
Roque said the matter was not a diplomatic issue and President Rodrigo Duterte would not act on it.