IT was the National Historical Commission of the Philippines (NHCP) and not the Manila City government that approved the construction of the statue on comfort women, a local official said on Friday.
Jojo Alcovendaz, city administrator, was reacting to a statement on Thursday by Presidential Spokesman Harry Roque who said that the matter should have also been raised with Mayor Joseph Estrada.
“The city goverment of Manila has nothing to do with the ‘comfort woman’ statue. They just asked for space, we just provide them,” Alcovendaz told The Manila Times in a phone interview.
“The city’s main role here was to provide them with a place where they can unveil the statue,” Alcovendaz said.
The Tulay Foundation built the statue with approval of the NHCP, he said.
“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,” he 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 soldiers during their occupation of the country in the early ‘40s.
A Japanese official called the statue “regrettable” although Roque said the matter was not a diplomatic issue and President Duterte would not act on it. RAADEE S. SAUSA