• NCCA welcomes new Nat’l Artists

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    THE National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA) said the media lost restraint and “respect for the truth” in reporting about the supposed delisting of superstar Nora Aunor from the roster of candidates for the title of National Artist, and committed “gross exaggerations.”

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    In a letter to President Benigno Aquino 3rd, NCCA chairman Felipe de Leon Jr. also said the public uproar, particularly among supporters of the veteran actress, was caused by the “media hype” related to the President’s decision.

    “Passions and tensions are running high because of the non-inclusion of Nora Aunor in the list of the newly proclaimed National Artists. And in the fierce competition for a scoop, the media snoops and scribes have gone overboard with their investigations and reporting of the circumstances regarding the awards,” de Leon said in his highly apologetic letter.

    “The thrill of the hunt has caused them to lose restraint and respect for the truth in their accounts,” the letter further stressed.

    The NCCA chief also belied reports that he supposedly decried Aquino’s decision to strike out Aunor. With his neck on the line, he said “the NCCA and the Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP) fully respect the authority to exclude any nominee for the award “if it is in the national interest.”

    “Indeed, we are happy that we have a new set of National Artists,” he pointed out.

    De Leon explained that he was misquoted and meant no “disrespect” to the President.

    “What I expressed to the press people was just sadness at the non-inclusion of Ms. Aunor. But their penchant for media hype led them to gross exggaerations. I said I simply lamented the results, but the wording was changed to ‘vehement objection’, ‘tinuligsa’, or ‘slamming’ Malacañang for its decision,” he bewailed.

    Meanwhile, Presidential Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. confirmed having received de Leon’s explanatory letter and even provided copies of it to the media.

    “The President followed the law and jurisprudence in deciding and choosing those that will be conferred the Order of the National Artist,” Coloma said.

    “The National Commission on Culture and Arts (NCCA) and the Cultural Center of the Philippines, the two bodies that initiated and shepherded the selection process, have affirmed their respect for the decision of the President,” he added.

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