Aquino confirms National Artist award for Fernando Poe Jr.

Fernando Poe, Jr. has been declared a National Artist anew, years after the prestigious award was first conferred to the late actor.

“Pursuant to the authority vested in me by law, I, Benigno S. Aquino III, President of the Philippines, do hereby confirm the declaration of Ronald Allan K. Poe a.k.a. Fernando Poe Jr. (Posthumous) as National Artist as conferred in Proclamation No. 1069, dated May 23, 2006,” the proclamation read.

The Proclamation 435 was signed this July 20.

In May 2006, under the Arroyo administration, the National Commission on Culture and the Arts (NCCA) already conferred the award to Poe but the late actor's wife, Susan Roces refused to acknowledge it.

Roces then accused Arroyo of stealing the presidency "not once, but twice," amid alleged poll fraud. Poe was Arroyo's strongest opponent in the 2004 presidential elections.

The National Artist Award is the "highest national recognition given to Filipino individuals who have made significant contributions to the development of Philippine arts," according to the National Commission for Culture and the Arts.

Vice President Jejomar Binay, a close friend and political ally of 2004 presidential aspirant Poe, immediately issued a statement thanking Aquino.

"I am grateful to President Aquino for issuing a new proclamation declaring Fernando Poe, Jr. a  National Artist," Vice President Jejomar Binay meanwhile said in a statement Friday.
 
"The National Artist award, conferred by a President who has been given a legitimate mandate by the Filipino people, is the most fitting recognition of a man who embodied the hopes and aspirations of the masses," Binay said.

Poe, who starred in hundreds of box-office action movies since 1955, ran in 2004 against then president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. He passed away last December 2004 due to stroke.

Apart from the prestige and a medal, a National Artist is entitled to material and physical benefits that includes a monthly pension, hospitalization benefits, and arrangements and expenses for a state funeral. For post-humous awardees, legal heirs are entitled to P75,000.

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