Wednesday, May 27, 2015Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Aquino defends decision to withhold top award from actress with drug conviction

Published on Jul 1, 2014 2:10 PM

MANILA (AFP) - Philippines President Benigno Aquino on Tuesday defended a controversial decision he made to withhold a top award from one of the country's accomplished film stars because of a drug conviction.

Last month's snub against multi-award-winning actress Nora Aunor sparked a nationwide furore with millions of fans insisting no one deserved a "national artist" prize more than the 61-year-old fondly nicknamed the "Superstar."

"Ms Nora Aunor has been convicted for drugs and was punished for it.... By making her a national artist, are we putting out the right message?" Aquino told a news conference aired on national television. "I respect her and I recognise her body of work. But our message of zero tolerance against drugs takes priority."

The Order of National Artist award, issued by presidential proclamation, recognises a person's significant contributions to the development of Philippine arts and letters. The honour includes a cash prize, monthly pension for life and a state funeral when the awardee dies.

Enjoy 2 weeks of unlimited digital access to The Straits Times. Get your free access now!