April 17, 2024

Statement on prohibition of political views on Sunday promenade

The Kordilyera Media-Citizen Council (KMCC) has no other words to describe the Baguio City Tourism Office’s policy prohibiting any artwork that is an “expression of political views and portrayals that negatively question or express opinions about social and political issues” on the Session Road Sunday promenade but censorship.
It is not only an outright attack against freedom of expression but an affront to a place that holds a title as the first member of the Unesco Creative Cities Network in the Philippines.
We are highly concerned by the statement of City Tourism Officer Aloysius Mapalo, that such policy promotes “safe creative expression” and its effort to define what are “socially and culturally accepted norms” by setting the restriction.
Contrary to his belief, the prohibition is reminiscent of Adolf Hitler’s Nazi State and Marcos’ Martial Law. He should likewise be reminded that the Anti-Subversion Law has long been repealed.
Promotion of “safe expression” means respect for one’s thoughts and perspectives. It should go beyond color, race, religion, and political beliefs.
This arbitrary imposition not only limits creative ideas, but also denies the existence of social realism in the arts and its vital role in shaping public opinion and social discourse. It is a policy that cultivates apathy instead of concern, a regulation that puts artists and art enthusiasts in a vacuum, a place devoid of care.
Further, implying that political exercise in art form is socially unacceptable betrays the legacy of great artists like Juan Luna, and social realists Neil Doloricon, Antipas Delotavo, Ang Kiukok, Jose Tence Ruiz, and Baguio’s Santi Bose. Even National Artist for Visual Arts Benedicto Cabrera or BenCab, also of Baguio, has dabbled in politically relevant works.
Many of the younger artists of note like Mideo Cruz, Sari Dalena, Pio Abad and our very own Kawayan de Guia, Rocky Cajigan, and the late Rene Aquitania are also very political in their works. To deny politically relevant artworks is to deny the growth of the artists who take part in the chalk art.
We, in the media and civic organizations, also tolerate bloggers who are almost extreme in their views in an effort not to curtail the freedom of expression. We ask Mapalo to do the same for the Sunday Session Road chalk art. We likewise call on Mayor Benjamin Magalong and the city council to look into this matter. — KORDILYERA MEDIA-CITIZEN COUNCIL, Baguio City

(Editors’ note: The KMCC is a media self-regulation mechanism initiated with civil society. It is a forum for media and community issues and for citizens to air their grievances on matters relating to media reportage. It provides an avenue for individuals or institutions to give their side to published or broadcast stories, and for communities to make their voices heard.)