The nation once again faces trying times. It is confronted by a President who cheated her way to victory in the 2004 election and continues an anti-people brand of governance begun in 2001, so soon after she was catapulted to power by a popular uprising. This President is facing calls for her removal from power.
We, artists, add our voices to the growing clamor for the ouster of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.
In the short time that she has occupied the helm of Malacañang, President Arroyo has wrought more damage to Philippine arts and culture than most of her predecessors.
Her regime has been characterized, among others, by the most brazen use of the different cultural venues for deceiving the people into accepting her administration’s anti-national and anti-people agenda. She has used the various cultural avenues to project herself as a mother of the nation while inflicting upon the people the worst forms of violence, from the violence of economic hardship caused by unjust policies to the violence of state terror against those seeking a decent life.
Amid this fostering of a culture of deception, the Arroyo administration has muzzled those artistic voices who dared expose the truth.
State forces have figured in the killings and other violations of the rights of journalists and other cultural workers involved in crusades against corruption and human rights abuses, and the President has not lifted a finger to ensure that the perpetrators are punished. If any, Arroyo through her spokespersons has at times even put the blame on the messengers for the disasters that befall them in the line of duty.
Censorship of artistic works highlighting the ugly realities of Philippine society has also been a trademark of the Arroyo administration.
At the same time, the Arroyo administration’s almost non-existent budgetary allocation for legitimate cultural projects has heavily stunted the development of Philippine culture and ensured the present prevalence of escapism and inanity in the nation’s cultural scene.
On top of all these, President Arroyo – whose name has figured in more than ten large-scale corruption scandals and whose government has dealt severe punishment on whistleblowers against the big fish in several corruption cases – would work mightily to conscript artists into a hypocritical anti-corruption campaign, a campaign to propagate an anti-corruption culture which teaches the people that petty crime does not pay but high crime pays big-time.
This is the kind of anti-corruption culture promoted by a leader who promised in 2001 to practice “government by example.” What an example President Arroyo is giving us.
The illegitimate President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, in her short stay in office, has already done incalculable damage to Philippine arts and culture – and, ultimately, to the lives of the people. She has been weighed, and found wanting. There is no reason for her to continue governing the country.
ARREST Gloria (Artists for the Removal of Gloria)
Southern Tagalog Exposure KASIBULAN Women Visual Artists’ Collective KUMASA (Kulturang Ugnayan ng Manggagawa at Uring Anakpawis sa Timog Katagalugan) ARTIST, Inc. (Arts Research and Training Institute in Southern Tagalog) Kilometer 64 Poetry Group Tambisan sa Sining Paolo Martinez Andrea Muñoz Gian Paolo Mayuga Jeffrey Ferrer Onin Tagaro Bobby Balingit Winnie Balingit Lourd de Veyra Dong Abay Ninj Abay