Petition for Nora Aunor’s national artist bid goes online
NORANIANS have taken the fight to the next level. Supporters of Nora Aunor have started a people’s petition to continue the actress’ thwarted bid for national artist.
The petition, which went online on Wednesday, was launched during a forum held at the Ateneo that same day. The forum, entitled “The Nora Effect: A Forum on the Crisis in the Order of National Art,” tackled President Benigno Aquino III’s exclusion of Aunor from this year’s list of national artists.
Zandro Rapadas, convenor of the Nora Aunor for National Artist Movement, told the Inquirer in a phone interview on Wednesday that his organization and other concerned groups are considering five options: “These are: 1) resubmit Aunor’s name to the President for reconsideration; 2) bring the case to the Supreme Court, to clarify the President’s “exercise of discretion”; 3) ask Congress to review and amend pertinent laws; 4) petition Congress to pass a House Resolution declaring Aunor a national artist; 5) or start a People’s Initiative drive.”
Trixie Cruz-Angeles, legal counsel of the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA), told the Inquirer, also by phone that same day: “Aunor’s supporters can always seek redress in the Supreme Court. But being able to bring the case to the Supreme Court and winning are two different things.”
The NCCA is one of two bodies governing the search for national artists, the other being the Cultural Center of the Philippines.
Rapadas likewise remarked that bringing the issue to Congress, on the other hand, can be contentious, since unsympathetic politicians can block their pleas.
As such, Rapadas’ group chose a People’s Initiative as the most likely solution. “We plan to gather a million signatures on the ground and online,” he said.
The petition went online on Wednesday on the website change.org (http://www.change. org/petitions/the-people-of-the-philippines-people-s-initiative-to-declare-nora-aunor-as-national-artist).
On the website, the group invoked Article 2, Section 1 of the 1987 Constitution in pursuing the People’s Initiative. The petition declared Aunor as “the Filipino people’s national artist.”
The campaign is also supported by the party-list group, Ako Bicol. Rep. Rodel Batocabe of Ako Bicol told the Inquirer, again by phone interview on Wednesday, “We may in fact gather more than a million signatures.”
Batocabe, however, said that he would rather resubmit Aunor’s nomination to the Office of the President. “We hope the President will rectify the mistake. There should be nothing the matter if he reconsiders. After all, he was fed [with] wrong information. Instead of causing embarrassment, it will show maturity and humility, qualities of a great leader.”
In a press gathering on Tuesday, President Aquino said he dropped Aunor from the list because she was “convicted and punished” following a drug-related arrest in the United States in 2005.
In a conversation conducted on Facebook on Wednesday, Claire Navarro-Espina, Aunor’s lawyer, denied this, saying that if the denial of the national artist honor was based on an alleged drug conviction … “then it’s incorrect.”
Espina remarked: “I wonder why the President didn’t give her credit for having redeemed herself [subsequently].”
Batocabe agreed: “It is unfortunate that the President’s message [in rejecting Aunor] can be interpreted as, ‘There is no hope, no second chances if you make one big mistake in this life.’”
Espina said: “The message should have been … that anyone can recover from personal travails and reclaim his creative and productive place in society.”
Espina also told the Inquirer that Aunor’s case was expunged from the record. “I tried to pull the records, but the Superior Court had sealed it, and even I as her attorney cannot have access to it. It is considered as something that never happened,” said Espina.
Batocabe reiterated: “We support Aunor because there was grave injustice. We cannot tolerate inequity.”
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