Malacañang says woman's statue in Laguna part of freedom of expression
MANILA, Philippines – After the Japanese government denounced the construction of a bronze female statue in Laguna province depicting a "comfort woman," Malacañang said the installation was part of "freedom of expression."
In a statement Tuesday, January 1, Presidential Spokesperson and Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Salvador Panelo also said that the Laguna statue was not built by the government, but was commissioned with private funds and built inside private property.
“This, therefore, forms part of freedom of expression and the government cannot simply delimit or restrain the exercise of such right without a tenable purpose – the aforesaid right being protected by our Constitution,” Panelo said.
The Palace was referring to reports on Friday, December 28, that the Japanese government was “disappointed” over the construction of a statue in San Pedro, Laguna.
"We believe that the establishment of a comfort woman statue in other countries, including this case, is extremely disappointing, not compatible with the Japanese government," the Japanese government said in a statement quoted by Manila Shimbun.
The monument was reported to be a one-meter tall bronze statue of a girl seated with a vacant chair on her right.
Inscribed under the statue was: “The monument gives recognition, respect, equal protection and empowerment to women of yesterday, today and future. It also symbolizes peace and true friendship of all nations in the world.”
Panelo said the statue of a comfort woman which was installed along Roxas boulevard and eventually removed was different circumstances.
He said the statue in Laguna “appears to be simply dedicated to peace and women empowerment,” while the statue in Roxas was built on public land to “memorialize a dark and internationally sensitive part of our peoples' history during the great war.”
Nevertheless, Panelo said although the public should commemorate sacrifices and lessons learned from World War II, individuals should “refrain from unduly politicizing an issue which has already been addressed.”
He said it would be “counter productive” to antagonize Japan, a strategic ally of the Philippines. (NEDA: Japan still Philippines' top ODA provider)
He added, “Japan, after all, has paid dearly for its past deeds, which includes giving reparations.” – Rappler.com