Commission succumbed to red-tagging?
The Komisyon ng Wikang Filipino (KWF) stopped the publication and distribution of five books by well-known writers and academicians, including a book on National Artist for Literature Bienvenido Lumbera.
In a memoramdum dated Thursday, August 9, KWF Commissioner for Programs and Projects Carmelita Abdurahman and Commissioner for Operations and Finance Benjamin Mendillo said the following books contain subversive and anti-government themes:
- Teatro Politikal Dos by Malou Jacob;
- Kalatas: Mga Kwentong Bayan at Kwentong Buhay by Rommel B. Rodriguez;
- Tawid-diwa sa Pananagisag ni Bienvenido Lumbera: Ang Bayan, ang Manunulat, at ang Magasing Sagisag sa Imahinatibong Yugto ng Batas Militar 1975-1979 by Dexter B. Cayanes;
- May Hadlang ang Umaga by Don Pagusara; and
- Labas: Mga Palabas sa Labas ng Sentro by Reuel M. Aguila.
The KWF also ordered its officer-in-charge director general to explain to mass media entities, libraries and schools given copies of said books that the commission wishes not to be charged under the Anti-Terrorism Law – Republic Act 11479 – particularly its Section 9 on inciting to commit terrorism.
‘Are they literary critics now?’
Kalatas author and University of the Philippines faculty member Rodriguez denounced the withdrawal of his book’s publication by the KWF and called on fellow writers and artists to defend the arts.
The academic blamed former communications undersecretary Lorraine Badoy and fellow Sonshine Media Network International (SMNI) presenters Jeffry Celis and a certain Frank he said are connected with the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) for KWF’s decision.
“Let us not allow this cabal to dictate on how we create art! They have no place in free speech! They have no right to prevent our right to create free art!” Rodriguez wrote.
The trio had alleged on their SMNI program “Laban Kasama ang Bayan” last August 9 that the books were instigated by the Communist Party of the Philippines which the KWF, an attached agency of the Office of the President, inadvertently allowed print.
The University of the Philippines Department of Filipino and Philippine Literature also condemned Badoy for red-tagging two of its faculty members who are “highly-regarded writers.”
The Department said that SMNI and the NTF-ELCAC had no right censuring the new books whatever are their themes, coming as it did this month, the country’s Buwan ng Wika – Month of Language. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)