MANILA, Philippines – President Benigno Aquino III on Tuesday said he agrees with the decision of Cultural Center of the Philippines officials to close down a controversial art exhibit that defaced religious images.
Speaking to reporters, the President said he talked to CCP board members yesterday and told them to be more sensitive in presenting art, especially if this may offend religious beliefs.
“I was in contact with several board members yesterday at sinabi ko ako’y Kristiyano, ang bansa natin at least 85 percent ay Kristiyano tapos mayroong depiction ni Kristo na hindi kaaya-aya kung kanino man. So yung CCP funded by public money also. It should be in the service of the people. So when you insult the beliefs of most of the people, I don’t see where that is of service,” he said.
He added: “I think I made my position very clear already to them and I did stress the idea of na may karapatan ka pero kung naaapakan ang karapatan ng iba naman may mali na doon at hindi sinasang-ayunan ng ating batas yun. So nag-remind lang tayo dyan. There is no freedom that is absolute. Meron talagang limits na set na and our laws set that as to what you are allowed to do. So I’m not after censorship pero… aren’t you supposed to be ennobling and when you stoke conflict, that is not an ennobling activity.”
CCP officials have come under fire for allowing the exhibition of Mideo Cruz’s controversial art pieces. The works fanning controversy are images of Jesus Christ and the Virgin Mary adorned with objects not related to Christianity — from a crucifix with a wooden penis to a Christ the King figurine with rabbit ears.
Catholic groups have condemned the exhibit for being “sacrilegious and blasphemous” and are set to sue Cruz and CCP board members.
Lawyer Jo Imbong of the St. Thomas More Society of Lawyers said their group will pursue the case despite the closure of the exhibit because “the Christian nation has been offended.”
“The Christian groups will pursue the charges because a serious offense has been committed and the CCP and the artist are accountable under the law,” Imbong said.
Imbong earlier said that the CCP and Cruz are liable for violating Revised Penal Code’s (RPC) Article 201 on immoral doctrines, obscene publications, and indecent shows. Report by Willard Cheng, ABS-CBN News