Vice President Jejomar C. Binay has asked President Benigno Simeon Aquino III to issue a new National Artist Plaque to Fernando Poe, Jr. to “correct a dishonor” to the late actor.
At the same time, the Vice President supported calls for actor Rodolpho Quizon, Sr., more popularly known as Dolphy, to be nominated as National Artist, asking concerned groups to act on the nomination immediately.
“Dolphy is an integral part of Philippine entertainment. He was instrumental in the transition of entertainment from the zarzuela through to the silver screen, and as such deserves to be conferred the highest accolade that our nation can give to artists of his caliber,” he said.
In a letter sent to the President before his departure for Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, Binay said a new National Artist Plaque signed by President Aquino would “be a fitting gesture to the family of a man who embodied the hopes and aspirations of the masses, from a President who is determined to make those hopes and aspirations come true.”
The Arroyo administration conferred in May 2006 a posthumous National Artist award on FPJ, who ran for president against Mrs. Arroyo in the fraud-marred 2004 presidential elections. But the Poe family declined to attend the ceremony, saying Mrs. Arroyo’s action was intended to mollify FPJ supporters who believed he was cheated by the former president.
FPJ’s family also maintained that the move bypassed the selection process and “undermined the true spirit of the National Artist as a symbol of Filipino excellence in the arts.”
“On the other hand, the family sent a representative in a separate ceremony at the Cultural Center of the Philippines in recognition of the acclamation given by FPJ’s fellow artists. The Poe family believes in the legitimacy of the votes given by FPJ’s fellow artists, among them National Artist for Cinema Eddie Romero,” he said.
“While the final choice for National Artist rests upon the President, the selection process follows stringent rules that involve the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA), the circle of living National Artists, and the artist community itself, to ensure that only deserving artists are conferred the honor. A National Artist represents a Filipino ideal. Therefore, just like the installation of a public official, the selection of a National Artist should be beyond reproach,” the Vice President said.
Binay added that there was no doubt that the actor deserves to be a National Artist, and expressed confidence that the President will rectify the dishonor committed to the actor’s memory. The Vice President served as FPJ’s campaign manager from March to May 2004.