Representatives of the National Commission on Culture and the Arts (NCCA) last week drew flak online after photos surfaced which showed them making a gesture very similar to that of the Nazi salute.
The “Heil Hitler” or “Sieg Heil” salute has been outlawed in Germany since the end of World War II, as well as in a number of other nations such as Austria, Slovakia, the Czech Republic, Switzerland and Sweden.
The NCCA, mandated to promote Filipino arts and heritage, made the hand motion after the agency’s online talk show “Padayon: The NCCA Hour”, in which the hosts discussed Filipino artists and cultural trends.
Soon after receiving criticism, they explained that they intended the gesture to signify “moving forward” in accordance with the show’s tagline “Sulong na!”
“We are in no way encouraging or harboring Neo-Nazi beliefs/practices in the Commission. Following the comments on our earlier post, which we have already taken down, we will rethink (sic) of another hand gesture that better shows our intent of moving forward,” they wrote in a Tweet.
While the Philippines has no history of anti-Semitism, it will be recalled that in 2016, President Rodrigo Duterte likened himself to Adolf Hitler as he vowed to “slaughter” addicts in his war against drugs.
The organization’s gaffe also took place days before the International Day of Commemoration on Jan. 27, which honored victims of the Holocaust. It is considered one of the blackest periods in history as it saw the genocide of Jews, Roma and homosexuals, among other peoples.
Concentration camps and mass murders resulted in 11 million deaths, of which six million were Jews.