Sunday, November 4, 2007

Dustup Over Angono and the Terrorists Bill of Rights

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A new brouhaha has arisen over a 32 x 8 foot mural commissioned by the National Press Club of the Philippines for its Headline Restaurant done by a hitherto little known group called the "Neo-Angono Artists Collective. " After NPC paid P900,000.00 for it, and caused a number of alterations to the work just before it was unveiled last week by President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo in Manila, the Neo-AC are crying "censorship." Philippine Daily Inquirer's screaming banner headline on the matter is FREEDOM MURAL DEFILED--Artists Outraged by NPC Censorship. It's the usual hyperbole the paper needs to sell it's many ad pages of cell phone load, but the intellectual property rights issues that have been raised involve matters of artistic and press freedom that ought to be considered and addressed.

Neo-AC's President, Richard Gappi, also published a Protest Letter and told PDI that "the most terrible" change made by their client was painting "a hideous bird monster in a cage" over the statement of the International Federation of Journalists, which had apparently been reproduced in the mural as newspaper article being read by Jose Rizal at the very center of the mural. Here is that IFJ Statement in full:
New anti-terror laws threaten press freedom: Philippines

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) is concerned about the effect a new anti-terrorism law will have on press freedom in the Philippines.

According to local news reports the new law, known as the Human Security Act, was brought into effect on July 15 and includes provisions for the phone tapping and detention of suspects for three days without charge.

Despite government assurances that the law will not be used against political opponents or dissenting voices, IFJ affiliate the Nation Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) says it remains unclear whether journalists will be considered accessories to terrorism if they report the statements of terror suspects.

IFJ Asia Pacific Director Jacqueline Park said the new law could easily be used as an excuse to harass journalists.

“If the government cannot assure the international community that the safety of journalists and their right to freedom of expression, which is enshrined in the Philippines’ constitution, are protected under this new law, it should be repealed,” Park said.

According to reports, three politicians filed a bill in the House of Representatives last week seeking to repeal the law, which activists believe to be unconstitutional.

President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, a vocal supporter of the US-led war on terrorism, insists the law is necessary to combat Al-Qaeda-linked militants who have allegedly blown up passenger buses, telecommunications towers and power lines in the Philippines.

“Terrorism is undoubtedly a threat in the modern world, but it is important to ensure the fight against terror does not provide an excuse for the suppression of free speech,” Park said.

“The people of the Philippines have the right to a free, unbiased press and it is the responsibility of their government to ensure this press is protected.”
First let me address the purely journalistic aspects of this statement.

It is obvious that neither IFJ nor the NUJP have even bothered to read or study the Human Security Act of 2007. They express concern about "phone tapping" of journalists and report that they are unclear about the possibility that journalists will be charged as "terrorist accessories" when they quote statements of terrorists suspects.

What a laugh! I wonder what could possibly be unclear about Section 7 of that law.

SEC. 7. Surveillance of Suspects and Interception and Recording of Communications. – The provisions of Republic Act No. 4200 (Anti-wire Tapping Law) to the contrary notwithstanding, a police or law enforcement official and the members of his team may, upon a written order of the Court of Appeals, listen to, intercept and record, with the use of any mode, form, kind or type of electronic or other surveillance equipment or intercepting and tracking devices, or with the use of any other suitable ways and means for that purpose, any communication, message, conversation, discussion, or spoken or written words between members of a judicially declared and outlawed terrorist organization, association, or group of persons or of any person charged with or suspected of the crime of terrorism or conspiracy to commit terrorism.

Provided, That surveillance, interception and recording of communications between lawyers and clients, doctors and patients, journalists and their sources and confidential business correspondence shall not be authorized.

Actually, I would not mind it one bit if the Human Security Act of 2007 were repealed today since no such restrictions are even present in RA4200, the Anti-Wiretapping Law of 1965. Moreover, it is important to note that under HSA 2007, it requires the written order of a special division of the Court of Appeals to undertake wiretapping and surveillance operations against legitimate terrorist suspects, whereas such a thing could be done under RA4200 with Court Orders from a mere Regional Trial Court!

Completely ignored too by IFJ, NUJP, and Neo-AC are no less than nine successive provisions , Sections 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, and 16 of HSA 2007 which regulate the conduct of such wiretapping and surveillance operations and levies fines and imprisonment penalties on law enforcement officers for the most trivial violations, like failing to keep a log book or failing to inform suspects that they have been surveilled!

Among the most amazing of these provisions is the requirement that the person under surveillance must be informed of the surveillance, if after thirty days no charge of terrorism has been filed against him or her! The information includes all the records and data captured, as well as the identities of the surveillance team, which can then be used to sue the law enforcement officers and put them in jail. Failure to notify such suspects after thirty days of surveillance can result in up to 8 years imprisonment for the law enforcement officials concerned!

The Human Security Act is not an Anti Terrorism Law at all but a TERRORIST BILL OF RIGHTS. There are in fact only four provisions that penalize terrorists and terrorist organizations in the law, whilst over forty provisions contain fines and imprisonment for the law enforcers!

It is obvious that IFJ, NUJP and Neo-AC are talking not from the point of view of Press Freedom at all, but from PURE IGNORANCE of the Law.

Regarding the intellectual property rights aspect of today's tempest in a teapot, it seems quite clear that the mural is a commissioned work, for which the National Press Club paid nearly a million pesos, and it has not been denied that some kind of approval process was agreed upon for changes and alterations. I have not seen that contract, so it remains to be seen what legal fallout there may be regarding the various changes that were made. However, the statement to the PDI by Neo-AC chairman Wire Tuazon that they will not insist on restoring their original work and are content "to drumbeat about how we were treated" indicates that they had indeed sold their rights to the work lock, stock and barrel. Upon discovering unacceptable " political" undertones to the various features of the work, the NPC saw fit to alter it since it is installed in the NPC headquarters restaurant in Manila and it is they that have to live with the mural's clear ideological and political bias.

The Intellectual Property Rights Code (PDF) is likewise apparently unknown or unfamiliar to the artists. This is not about freedom but the usual victimology of our leftist poltiical classes.

Artistic and Press Freedom have nothing to do with it, try as hard as the Philippine Daily Innuendo might to make such a case. The mural is a droll caricature, a piece of audio-visual propaganda inspired by manifestae from the the Utrecht Space Station foisted on the National Press Club, and I would not be surprised if it were removed altogether eventually.

Press Freedom is alive and well in the Philippines, and not just among Leftists who think they have a monopoly on that sacred right and freedom.

Please read the friggin' laws!

From the purely aesthetic perspective, I fail to see how the left side of the mural is supposed to depict "an idyllic community while on the right side is the busy street of Manila." Heck it all looks the same to me. But check out the Protest Letter of the Neo-AC for a comparison of the Before and After alterations. I can't rally blame them for the overnight clumsiness of the changes, though I must say that "hideous bird in a cage" replacement for the IFJ's uninformed statements was either deliciously ironic or just plain mean! However, I do not agree with getting rid of the alibata "K" tattoo on Andres Bonifacio's arm, and putting an entirely irrelevant red heart with an arrow through it. Maybe the Collective should just start making its own murals and donate their work to the CPP NPA or the Abu Sayyaf for fund raising activities on You Tube.


Kyo Ami said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Equalizer said...

The Defacing of The Press Freedom Mural in NPC

“The Law Concerning Art Preservation and Artists’ Rights” in America states that no person, with the exception of the artist, has a right to deface or alter a work of fine art.

”Droit morale,” a legal concept meaning ”moral rights” is the cornerstone of the law. In this case, ‘droit morale’ is the concept that art work is more than a commercial product.

An artist’s reputation and career is dependent upon the works of art he or she creates. Each work of art has the artist’s signature on it, literally and figuratively.

The droit morale essentially says the owner of a work of art does not have the right to alter, deface or destroy the work of art.

The work of art is something that belongs to society as a whole.

DJB Rizalist said...

I would defend their right to say or paint whatever they want to, but I don't have to agree with it, or even like it.

Just because it is "art" in support of our rights, the Freedom of the Press still comes with the duty to reflect the truth and not someone's prejudice or fantasy.

In this case they were working for NPC and they sold their art so it could be installed in a restaurant. The buyer didn't think it appropriate that words or messages be put in their mouths that they don't necessarily agree with. For example, who knows what really happened to he Jonas Burgos? As for the "main message" from IFJ, it is obvious to me they've never laid their eyes on our Human Security Law. Neither have the New Angono Collective.

Wasn't there some better medium for the same message?

I encourage those artists to try again, this time without taking 900,000 pesos for it and then complaining when the buyer doesn't like what he paid for.

cvj said...

Neo-Angono vs. the Neocons :-)

DJB Rizalist said...

very funny cvj. hehehe. got anything substantive, though? or is that meant to hide under the skirts of the word "art" too?

cvj said...

hi djb, nothing substantive. i just couldn't resist.

DJB Rizalist said...

well, i must admit, it made chuckle too. never saw it coming! but i guess i have to accept the fact that this is pretty much the only unabashedly neoconservative blog in the philippines. if you know of any other birds of a feather that yank your tether, let me know. Maybe not everyone is falling for this Stalin-style style proletarian "art" cum manifesto that is ever ready to play the old victimological game of "rapo".

cvj said...

I'll be on the look out. There must be others since i do agree with you (and Manolo) that Filipinos (whatever class) tend to be conservative.

ricelander said...

All art, I suppose, reflect the person of its creator including his view of truth corresponding to his biases.

What was the arrangement? Was it for the group to paint as they please or have they been given a strict guideline or concept?

The group could ask that their work be returned and they could reimburse, would that be practical?

I do not know about the law, but if you bought my painting then violated it in any way, I'd be mad.

What do you feel if PDI bought an essay material from you then changed a word or two changing a whole meaning?

DJB Rizalist said...

It depends on exactly what the contractual arrangement is. Once upon a time, PDI put one of my essays on the front page, and we got sued for libel. that was definitely a case when I got mad because although we never had a written contract, there was always the understanding that they would only change the odd spelling or grammatical errors, and always with my assent, not for them to add "facts" which did indeed change the entire meaning of the thing.

In the case of NPC though, I gather from the reports that NPC had the right to ask for modifications, but that because of time constraints the artists of Neo AC could not arrive and do the work.

Regarding paintings that are bought lock stock and barrel, even destruction of the art or radical modification is legal and ethical, as long as you don't advertise the fact that the result is still the artist's work.

One thing for sure, if I took 900,000 for something, I ought to expect that the customer certainly has the right to make some modification, even substantial ones.

Otherwise, as an artist, I woulldn't sell my work.

The problem with the actual content they put in, like that of Jonas Burgos is that it is not really known what the truth is yet the artists wanted to portray him as an abductee and the guilty party is the govt. What if, after the thing has been displayed for a long time, it turns out he really is NPA that turned govt agent and was in fact kidnapped and killed by the NPA?

Right now, any position on Jonas Burgos has got to be propaganda, at least until real proof surfaces.

it is not fair to foist some "truth" about the matter when it is not known.

Equalizer said...

One of the crimes of dictatorships is defacing works of art.

In Afghanistan, the Taliban began each day with prayer and then one morning blasted ancient Buddhist statues along the silk route with artillery and painted over all the human figures in the artwork that was still in their national museum.

But things of this nature are now happening right here!What does it say about the Philippines?

ricelander said...

Inquirer says:

"Those 'slipshod' alterations according to the artists were:

The headline of the letter Jose Rizal was holding, 'Press Freedom Fighter's Son Abducted' was replaced with 'Press Freedom Fight Is On'..."

Did I miss something? Where did it say the AFP abducted Jonas?

Equalizer said...

"Right now, any position on Jonas Burgos has got to be propaganda, at least until real proof surfaces."


One day they came and they took the Communists
And I said nothing because I was not a Communist
Then one day they came and they took the student activists
And I said nothing because my son was not a student activist
One day they came and they took Jonas Burgos
And I said nothing because he was not part of my family
One day they came and they took The Dean
And I said nothing because I did not agree anyway with his political views
Then one day they came and they took me
And I could say nothing because I was as guilty as they were
For not speaking out and saying that all men have a right to freedom!

Cherry Joy said...

I think you got the issue wrong also. If you would look at the mural, it's about the history of Press Freedom.
Of course, if it's press freedom we're going to talk about, I believe historians would agree with me that IFJ, NUJP and the HUman Security act of 2007 should all be there, in the same way that all IMPORTANT people, organizations and concepts that have contributed▬both good and bad▬to the press freedom evolution should be there.
The outcry, I believe, is not about the HUMAN SECURITY ACT OF 2007. If you will again look at the original mural, there is not indication whatsoever of it wanting to repeal the act.
The issue here is violation of rights, artistic freedom and copyright.
The mural is both leftist and rightest and if you ask me, it is balanced and it was able to present the press freedom history with equal weight.

DJB Rizalist said...

Hi cherry,
I haven't seen the sales contract for the commissioned work, so I can't be sure. but the PDI article mentions the artists saying they couldn't do the requested modifications in time because "the artists were resting" or "not available". this suggests they agreed for 900,000 to deliver something that had to be acceptable to its new owner. I'd like to know if they reserved the copyright against modifications because by allowing its permanent display in public, it would be hard to imagine that the purchaser was willing to accept anything they delivered. but if you know the actual situation I'd like to hear about it.

As for "the history of press freedom" was Jonas Burgos a working journalist? Was he in the NPA or in the Intelligence Service? What is the truth about his case? Do you or does anybody know? What is the connection with press freedom of his case?

DJB Rizalist said...

Same question? What did Jonas Burgos do for a living or what was his occupation when he was abducted? Who DID abduct him? WAS he abducted? Or is he hiding somewhere. Do you know?

DJB Rizalist said...

Tell that to the communists! They abduct and assassinate politicians, policemen all the time. You think you are the only one who cares about desaparecidos? What really makes Jonas Burgos or the 800 on kapatiran's list so special. How come the rejectionists aren't on that list, or any of the people the NPA rejoiced in giving "revolutionary justice to on Joma's orders? Don't they qualify for your borrowed poetry?

Equalizer said...

“One thing for sure, if I took 900,000 for something, I ought to expect that the customer certainly has the right to make some modification, even substantial ones.”

My Dear Dean:

With due respect, I disagree with your view.

”Droit morale,” a legal concept meaning ”moral rights” is the cornerstone of the law “The Law Concerning Art Preservation and Artists’ Rights”

In this case, ‘droit morale’ is the concept that art work is more than a commercial product.

An artist’s reputation and career is dependent upon the works of art he or she creates. Each work of art has the artist’s signature on it, literally and figuratively.

The droit morale essentially says the owner of a work of art does not have the right to alter, deface or destroy the work of art.

Respecfully yours,

Your Student

Equalizer said...

My Dear Dean:

"Blessed are they who mourn: for they shall be comforted."

I mourn for ALL the victims of injustice.

A victim is a victim is a victim.

I denounce ALL the perpetrators of injustice: from Joma Sison and his Communist cohorts hiding in their safe haven in Holland to General Palparan and his cruel death squads.

A butcher is a butcher is a butcher
(whether you are a communist or a misguided military man).

God waits. Jesus waits. His day will come. Justice will come.

Respecfully yours,

Your Student

DJB Rizalist said...

I am a student also, and cannot pretend to teach anyone. I am with you however on this sentiment of yours. The killings ongoing on both sides are the result of an unresolved conflict, in which however, I am forced by conscience to take the side of the Law and give to the Constitution my fealty. We cannot be neutral in fight between good and evil. Nor blind. I see the insurgencies as the real well springs of injustice and I cannot be a hypocrite. I firmly believe that when violent means are forsaken by those who are not given the mandate of the people to lead and to govern, then they shall mount the moral high ground and from there attain justice for all . thanks for your contributions and indulgence.

ricelander said...

Dean, Here's what you said:
"The problem with the actual content they put in, like that of Jonas Burgos is that it is not really known what the truth is yet the artists wanted to portray him as an abductee and the guilty party is the government."

I only inquired where did it say in the original "headline" government is the guilty party because having not seen it in the original form, I could have indeed missed something.

You ask what was his occupation when abducted? I wonder what's the whole point in asking that but I think he was an agriculturist training farmers. To what? Handle guns, perhaps, and plant crops, perhaps? Who abducted him? I don't know? Do you? Was he even abducted? I don't know? Or is he hiding somewhere? I don't know.

Precisely the reason why I am wondering where in the pre-edited version of the mural did it say the government is guilty. Something that goes "AFP kidnapped freedom fighter's son!"

But hey, your line of questioning does suggest what's in your mind, doesn't it? Else, why take offense on behalf of the military?

Anyway, as a lesson, next time you contract a mural, or a portrait for that matter, you are better off knowing the inclinations, biases and styles of your artist. There could be hidden images of Joma there as a saint, for all I know haha.


There will always be wiretappers and wiretapped phones, cell and landline, in the environment we move in.

Obviously, I don't approve of such practice -- the feeling of being violated is horrendous enough but using the result of wiretappings against you is worse.

I've been wiretapped a couple of times back in 1996 while I was working in Manila (my conversations with another was caught somewhere in Ortigas avenue and near Hotel Intercon. The report fortunately landed in the hands of 'friendly' elements who decided instead to advise me to be cautious. That was when I decided to get scramblers.

Wiretapping without a court warrant is supposed to be illegal in any democratic country but it happens all the time particularly in business and some of the most perverted practitioners are Americans.

Just have to be careful.


In Seoul some 10 years ago, Americans were suspected of stealing documents containing the commercial offer of a French conglomerate to Korea (neck on neck competition between the US and France then for supply of Vshorads.)

The chief of the French team discovered that his phone was being tapped and the fellows who stole the documents knew that he would be out of his room at a given time. Presto! The offer was gone when he returned.

Bidding in Korea is a 'regimented' affair and if you lose your documents, you will not be given a second chance.

Part and parcel of industrial espionage. (But not to worry, the French won the bidding.)

DJB Rizalist said...


I don't understand what Jonas Burgos actually has to do with the "history of press freedom".

First of all he wasn't a member of the Press that I know of, and we really do not know how "history" will regard him--villain, hero, desaparecido, govt agent, NPA partisan, what?

Now of course his father Joe Burgos is regarded as "an icon of press freedom in the Philippines" so I suppose it's him who ought to be on this mural, since at least his connection with the "history of press freedom" is not in question. Inconveniently of course, Joe Burgos was not a communist sympathizer.

As for Mrs. Burgos, I also do not know what her connection is to the history of press freedom, other than that she was the wife of the icon. Why is the icon not there?

It's kind'of strange to claim that the artists don't have any kind of message or partisanship regarding Jonas Burgos.

Hey, and where in the world is Chino Roces, and a whole slew of other press freedom fighters that some of us looked up to even if they weren't leftists of joma-type demagogues?

Anyway, it is illogical to claim that this mural is somehow "neutral" about the issue they are really drumbeating about: extrajudicial killings.

Yet, many of the journalist killings have little to do with "press freedom" per se, some being personal vendettas, business deals gone sour, or the usual stepping on the wrong toes on behalf of equally wrong political toes.

To portray them all as press freedom issues is to be naive about corruption in the media, partisanship, libel, etc.

All of a sudden there is this list of "activists, clerics, journalists and judges" who are somehow the victim of the government killers, all the while denying the possible role of the violent insurgency of the NPA in a great number of the cases.

susmaryosep! some UN rapporteur parachutes in for a few days, and all of a sudden "extrajudicial killings" has become an epidemic.

And no one counts the killings of government officials, agents, soldiers, policemen.

DJB Rizalist said...

The government doesn't NEED the Human Security Act to do illegal wiretapping! Read the law everybody. If I were a wiretapper I wouldn't touch the stupid thing with a ten foot pole. Too many fines, too many years in jail if just forget to fill in the logbook or INFORM the suspect he's been surveilled.

I'd rather take my chances with the anti wiretapping law and forget about terrorism as a crime or the law as a means of catching them.

Anyway, HSA is suspended right now for two months! Ngek!

DJB Rizalist said...

BTW, that is a serious provision in HSA that "Journalists and their Sources" may not be wiretapped under the HSA! Yet that is the centerpiece of the mural and that dumb, DUMB IFJ statement. it is so obvious they don't know anything about the HSA. nada. talking through their hat. just like NUJP and the rest of the "press freedom" crowd.

blackshama said...

The artistic merits of the mural is debatable. I think it is a mere rehash of Botong Francisco's style and a poor one at that!

Nonetheless the PDI has proved to be as ridiculously hysterical as the Left by having a headline that reads "Freedom Mural Defiled". This suggests that the mural is some sort of religious icon! Good God!

But artistic supression is common in our Islas Filipinas. Colleges and universities are notorious for that and come to think of it these are the places we believe where students develop their democratic values. There is a Catholic university (which prides itself as liberal) that banned the "Vagina Monologues" on the opinion of one woman theology prof. The noted drama prof that directed students to perform it resigned.

Not only sectarian schools but even the State University. Any essay or work of visual art that goes against the Leftist "Nationalist" orthodoxy of the university has big chances of not seeing print or exhibition.

The reason why I am ballistic over artistic suppression is that with that, suppression of science is not very far behind.

As for commissioned works of art, artists if they want to disagree with their patron should have followed the example of mural painter par excellance Michelangelo. He painted unflattering portraits of cardinals in the Last Judgement. It took some time for clerics to find out and censor. But they were more concerned about nudity!

Now even the Pope says nudity if OK.

AdB said...

Re: "In this case they were working for NPC and they sold their art so it could be installed in a restaurant. The buyer didn't think it appropriate that words or messages be put in their mouths that they don't necessarily agree with."

Then the NPC should not accept it! They should totally cover it and put up another type of "masterpiece" suited to NPC's taste. But to accept it as a work of art by said group or artists and then show it after having defiled it, after making alterations to it without seeking, obtaining permission from the artists is just not done.

Just downright cavalier and uncivilized! Pathetic amateurs.

Anonymous said...

My comment to your comment... from

You read me wrong. I'm not advocating for revolution. I myself denounce communism because it's one of the worst philosophies ever invented in the past century. We only have to be keen enough on understanding the events that unfold before our eyes. I'm more an objectivist, which advocates for individualism. If we're to live on earth, we must live as man, as man of rational mind.
The people are conufused because of the different kinds of personalities who claim they are for "democracy" and the "common good." We are taught, unconsciously or consciously, to believe that democracy is the same as socialism, where everybody must be free to do what he wants.
Every individual better exists in a country that respects his individual rights, permits him to hone his potentials, to use his innate talents and to interact with his fellow individuals as man who belong on earth, and encourages him to improve his economic status in life through free trade and free competition.
This kind of state allows men to live as man while totalitarian states make man the slave of "men".
That is the confusion I'm talking about... Whenever you hear a person who says so-called "negative things" about his government, you are very quick to lay down a judgment that that person is "communist" or a member of the left ideology. That is the mental program being done by those in power, which seeks to sort out men via "binary opposition", that if you criticize those men in power, you are a "communist" or "an enemy of the state." But if you blindly follow the government and keep a blind eye on its excesses and abuses, you are called "pro-democratic", "pro-people" and worthy to be called "hero of the state."
Think... That's why you have the mind. Use it, because that's the only weapon you can use in a state run by wicked and evil men.
Good Day!