Senate to investigate 'blasphemous' art exhibit

Posted at 08/10/11 5:02 PM

MANILA, Philippines - The Senate will conduct an inquiry into the controversial art exhibit of Mideo Cruz showing defaced religious figures.

Senate Majority Leader Vicente Sotto III said the probe will focus on officials responsible for allowing the exhibit. The resolution calling for the investigation has been referred to the education, arts and culture committee with the support of Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile.

"[Cultural Center of the Philippines officials] were not the one who decided. Yung curator and some officials but not the board itself and apparently hindi rin ang board ang may kinalaman sa sinasabing nag-meeting daw, nagkabotohan, hindi, may mga nangbobola. There should be an inquiry kung sino ang nasa likod nito. They should realize being very high on their ivory towers and freedom of expression they have forgotten common sense and decency," Sotto said.

The Cultural Center of the Philippines closed down the controversial art show Tuesday amid threats to artist Mideo Cruz and CCP Board Members. Several of Cruz's controversial art pieces include a picture of Jesus Christ with a wooden penis glued to his face and a Christ the King figure with rabbit ears.

Last week, a couple vandalized several of the art pieces and tried to burn down the exhibit.

The CCP said it decided to close the exhibit after hate mail and threats to CCP Board members intensified.

Manila Congressman Amado Bagatsing praised President Aquino for ordering the closure of the controversial exhibit.

He said the Palace order to stop the art exhibit “does not constitute curtailment or infringement of the freedom of expression guaranteed by the Constitution.”

"The art work in question is clearly sacrilegious and deeply offensive to what we Catholics hold dear and sacred,” the lawmaker said in a statement.
“Every right has a corresponding responsibility. Artists cannot invoke freedom of expression to attack whoever they please. If freedom of the press is circumscribed by the law against libel, freedom of expression has its limits as well. It is not absolute and should not be used to attack cherished institutions, including the Church,” he added.
Bagatsing urged the current CCP Board to resign because of their “egregious lapse of judgment which has put the institution in disrepute.”
He said President Aquino should consider appointing  a new set  of CCP Board Members "who can exercise better judgment and shall always take into full account public sensibilities in their policies and programs to promote art and culture among the masses."