Manila’s local government today condemned those responsible for vandalizing the Lagusnilad Underpass, which was sprayed with protest slogans just a week after its new look was unveiled to the public.
The pedestrian tunnel was cleaned up from July to October to give Manileños ample space to walk from City Hall to Intramuros, and vice versa. In addition to giving the underpass a fresh coat of paint, authorities also kicked out several vendors that had set up shop inside, many of whom reportedly did not pay their taxes to City Hall.
The newly beautified surrounds proved short-lived, however, with graffitied slogans critical of the government appearing on pristine white walls of the underpass overnight.
In a statement today, the Manila Tourism and Cultural Affairs Bureau said in Filipino that they were “saddened by this occurrence. This [the underpass rehabilitation] was painstaking work, meant to improve and beautify our surroundings with the help of individuals in the hopes of bringing back the beauty and zest of Manila.”
It added, “vandalism is not the answer for change. Discipline and understanding is what we need to a progressive Manila.”
One of the graffitied slogans read, “DOWN WITH PRICES! UP WITH WAGES!”, while another read, “THE PHILIPPINES IS OURS! US-CHINA GET OUT!” Both were signed “PS.”
“PS” stands for the words Panday Sining (literally “Blacksmith Art”), the cultural arm of the activist group Anak Bayan (“Child of the Fatherland”), which claimed credit for the vandalism, ABS-CBN News reports.
Tugon sa arawang krisis ay ang malakas na paglaban.
Inilulunsad muli ng PS ang serye ng mga Graffiesta bilang ambag sa kilusang masa para sa pagkakaisa ng buong mamamayang Pilipino para biguin ang de facto Martial Law ng rehimeng US-Duterte, at labanan at patalsikin ito. pic.twitter.com/3fmmJpqZYq
— Panday Sining (@PandaySining) November 11, 2019
Panday Sining yesterday announced on Twitter the launch of Graffiesta, a campaign that they said was a response to “the de-facto Martial law of the US-Duterte regime.” They also posted photos of graffiti in an undisclosed area, which ended with the same “PS” seen in the Lagusnilad graffiti.
Anak Bayan’s spokesperson Al Omaga told ABS-CBN News that the red protest slogans at Lagusnilad were indeed created by Panday Sining. Rather than apologizing, he went on to say that slogans are considered an art form.
— Manila Public Information Office (@ManilaPIO) November 12, 2019
But Manila’s local government didn’t exactly see it the same way, ominously noting in a tweet posted by its information office “that there is an existing ordinance against vandalism in the nation’s capital.” It also posted a copy of the Anti-Vandalism Law of 1999, which prohibits everyone from defacing public and private property without consent from the government or its owner.
Those found guilty of vandalism can face fines of up to PHP5,000 (US$98), and even up to one year in jail.
So, do you think those graffiti were a form of art? Tell us by leaving a comment below or tweeting to @CoconutsManila.
This article, Writing on the Wall: Manila government decries graffiti left by activists on newly cleaned underpass, originally appeared on Coconuts, Asia's leading alternative media company. Want more Coconuts? Sign up for our newsletters!