THE Supreme Court (SC) declared invalid the presidential orders that proclaimed director Carlo Caparas, Philippine Educational Theater Association (PETA) founder Cecilia Guidote Alvarez, architect Francisco Mañosa, and fashion designer Jose “Pitoy” Moreno national artists.
The SC’s Public Information Office (PIO) Chief Theodore Te said Proclamation numbers 1826 to 1829 issued by former president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo in 2009 were voided for grave abuse of discretion.
The proclamations sparked controversies after musician Ramon Santos was dropped from the list of nominees short-listed for that year by the selection committee assigned by Malacañang.
Voting 12-1-2, the High Court held that Mrs. Arroyo violated the Constitution when she handed down the proclamation.
“There was a violation of the equal protection clause of the Constitution when the former President gave preferential treatment to respondents Guidote-Alvarez, Caparas, Mañosa and Moreno,” the tribunal said.
“The former President’s constitutional duty to faithfully execute the laws and observe the rules, guidelines and policies of the NCCA (National Center for Culture and Arts) and the Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP) as to the selection of the nominees for conferment of the order of National Artists proscribed her from having a free and uninhibited hand in the conferment of the said award,” it added.
“The manifest disregard of the rules, guidelines and processes of the NCCA and CCP was an arbitrary act that unduly favored respondents Guidote-Alvarez, Caparas, Mañosa and Moreno. The conferment of the Order of National Artists to said respondents was therefore made with grave abuse of discretion and should be set aside,” the High Court said.
The NCCA lauded the decision of the Supreme Court.
“Mabuti po at pinawalang bisa ng Sumpreme Court ang pagdeklara na National Artist. Sa tingin po namin ay hindi pa nila panahon para maparangalang National Artists,” NCCA Chairman Felipe de Leon Jr. said.
“Naibalik rin po ang karangalan ng Award. Dahil kapag napasukan po ito ng pulitika ay bumababa ang integridad nito,” he added.
WITH A REPORT FROM EUDEN VALDEZ