Leaders of the House of Representatives were denounced recently for not reporting dozens of valuable artworks by famous Filipino artists – estimated at north of P0.5 billion – currently in their possession.
Reports said that most of the artworks can be seen hanging in the huge hallway of the Batasan building leading to the office of Speaker Lord Allan Velasco.
In its 2020 report, the Commission on Audit (CoA) noted that some 30 artworks by several iconic Filipino painters led by Fernando Amorsolo and Botong Francisco were found being kept by the HOR but were not reflected in the December 31, 2020 inventory report as required by law.
“Several pieces were donated to the HOR long ago, but with no copies of deeds of donation,” CoA officials said.
They added this is a dangerous precedent because, under the present set-up, any HOR functionary with a taste for expensive art could just abscond with an Amorsolo without concerned officials realizing it.
The CoA also noted that the 30 paintings weren’t even entered as “heritage assets” in the HOR’s registry books, which is the least that should have been done by responsible officials of the Office of the Secretary General.
Because there is none at the moment, the CoA said the House must immediately create a Registry of Heritage Assets where items of historical or cultural significance should be listed.
The CoA said the HOR property officer should now locate the pertinent documents covering the deed of donation or proof of acquisition of the artworks to make it the official property of the government.
The among unrecorded artworks in the HOR’s possession are: ”Hagibis” by Francisco Coching (1947 and 1948); “Return of the Fishermen at Sunrise” by Amorsolo (1959); “Jose Rizal” plaster of Paris by Guillermo Tolentino (1961); “First Mass” by Botong Francisco (1965); “Door Acacia” by Napoleon Abueva (1967); and “Mother and Child” by Hernando Ocampo (1970).
“Sacada” by Victorio Edades (1971); “Planting Rice” (1975) and “Nude” (1976) by Vicente Manansala; ”Manila Bay” by Federico Aguilar Alcuaz (1979); “Leap Year” by Larry Alcala (1984); and “Mother and Child” by Ang Kiukok (1985).