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.
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