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SC voids National Artist Award on Carlo Caparas, 3 others

July 16, 2013 2:05pm

(Updated 2:50 p.m.) The latest plot twist in film director Carlo J. Caparas' life saga is the loss of his greatest award.

The Supreme Court has invalidated former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo's 2009 order giving the prestigious National Artist Award to four personalities, including Caparas.

At a press conference on Tuesday, Supreme Court Public Information Office chief Theodore Te said the high court struck down Proclamation Nos. 1826, 1827, 1828, 1829 due to "grave abuse of discretion."

The invalidated orders covered Cecile Guidote-Alvarez for Theater; Caparas for Visual Arts and Film; Francisco Mañosa for Architecture; Jose “Pitoy” Moreno for Fashion Design.

According to the petitioners, the four were not among the nominees shortlisted by the NCCA and the CCP boards for 2009.

Te said the justices voted 12-1-2—with Associate Justice Arturo Brion on medical leave and Associate Justices Mariano del Castillo and Marvic Leonen abstaining—to void the four proclamations.

Te said he and Leonen were two of the counsel for petitioners Virgilio Almario (literature), Bienvenido Lumbera (literature), Benedicto Cabrera (visual arts, Painting), Napoleon Abueva (Visual Arts, Sculpture), and Arturo Luz (Painting and Sculpture).

Preferential treatment

The high court said Arroyo gave "preferential treatment" to the four and disregarded rules of the National Commission on Culture and Arts (NCCA) and the Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP) in selecting the awardees.

"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 SC said.

"The conferment of the Order of National Artists to said respondents was therefore made with grave abuse of discretion and should be set aside," it added.

The SC said there is grave abuse of discretion "when an act is done contrary to the Constitution, the law or jurisprudence or executed whimsically, capriciously or arbitrarily out of malice, ill will or personal bias."


Cabrera had earlier called the 2009 national artists list a mockery, particularly the inclusion of Caparas, who was a vocal supporter of Arroyo.

Then-acting Executive Secretary and Presidential political adviser Gabriel Claudio said while the Palace respects the views of some groups questioning the choice, the choice was a product of a "thorough process."

According to the petitioners, the four were not among the nominees shortlisted by the NCCA and the CCP boards for 2009. On the list were Lazaro Francisco (posthumous) for literature), Dr. Ramon Santos (music), Manuel Conde (posthumous) for film and broadcast, and Federico Aguilar Alcuaz (visual arts, painting, sculpture, and mixed media).

Arroyo dropped the name of Dr. Ramon Santos and replaced him with the names of Alvarez, Caparas, Moreno, and Mañosa.

Power of control

However, though there was an abuse of discretion in the replacement, there was none when Arroyo dropped Santos' name from the list, saying the recommendation of the NCCA and the CCP was not "binding but only discretionary."

"By the power of control, the President had the authority to alter or modify or nullify or set aside such recommendation or advice," the SC said.

The court said it was well within Arroyo's power and discretion to proclaim "all or some or even none of the recommendees of the CCP and NCCA boards" without having to justify his or her action.

The SC ruling came four years after the high court issued a status quo ante order stopping Arroyo from conferring the rank and title of national artist on the four personalities. — KBK/DVM/ELR/HS, GMA News
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