by Angie M. Rosales
The management of the Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP) is now in hot water and is in peril of losing jobs as they stand to earn a “zero” budget for their office next year in the light of the controversy stirred by what most critics described as blasphemous art exhibit.
Senate leaders are now out to get the head of CCP executives as they are in unison in dipping their fingers into the art exhibit “Kulo.”
Although CCP closed down the main gallery where the said exhibit has been on display, this did not stop Senate President Pro Tempore Jinggoy Estrada from bringing up the matter anew on the floor during their afternoon plenary session.
Minority Leader Vicente Sotto III was first to condemn the said exhibit, calling it a sacrilegious and an affront to the sensibilities of Filipinos as some groups are claiming these form of art as part of freedom of expression.
Estrada, joined Sotto’s view as he expressed belief that it was an “outrageous abuse of artistry and freedom of expression.”
“These ugly, insulting, blasphemous images achieve nothing, enrich no one, and debase instead of uplift.
“What does it serve a viewer’s mind and soul to see the images of Christianity’s bedrock, Jesus Christ, his mother the Virgin Mary, and of the Cross that symbolizes the supreme sacrifice offered by Christ to redeem mankind, treated so insultingly and with such shocking disrespect by a group of people who believe they have the absolute artistic license to do so?” asked Estrada in his previlege speech.
The upper chamber leader said this should not be continued to be tolerated especially since it’s a disrespect and insult to Catholics.
Even if it was reported to have been closed down by the management of CCP, this should not be allowed to happen again, Estrada said.
“I ask that, because of the failure of the Board of Directors of the CCP to thoroughly scrutinize artists who want to put up an exhibit with them, they should all resign from their positions starting today,” the senator added.
Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile lost no time in ordering the conduct of a probe, prompted by Estrada’s speech.
Enrile shared the contention of Estrada on the issue of CCP management being negligent in screening the said art exhibit before allowing it to be put on public display.
“As a Christian nation, we revered, it’s a part of our culture to revere Jesus Christ. We believe for those of us who belong in the Catholic and Christian Church believed that he is the Savior of mankind and for anyone to assault that faith, I think, has to deal the anger of the people who entertain this thing,” Enrile said during the plenary session.
The upper chamber chief said it is indeed “precisely against the faith for the majority of and I think assault to the culture of this country.”
“While we respect the freedom of expression, in respecting the right of an artist to express his thoughts, his feelings, his concept of life, nevertheless, he must equally respect the sensitibilities of the people around him. And if wanted to make an expression or statement, he is free to do it, but the CCP is not the venue to express this.
“I agree that the governing body, the administrator, have failed their mission in guarding the culture of this country and they opt to resign or be fired from their jobs. That kind of an exhibit was never envisioned by those who created the Cultural Center of the Philippines,” he said.
Sotto supported the move and even called on the Senate Finance Committee to take up the budget of the CCP during budget hearings at the chamber.
Sotto pointed out to other lawmakers that the CCP is supported by public money, thus part of the General Appropriations Act (GAA).
“The CCP is under the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA) but the budget is under the Office of the President,” Sotto said.
The matter had been referred to the Senate Committee on Education, Arts and Culture chaired by Sen. Edgardo Angara.