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Atienza seeks return of Botong mural to Manila City Hall

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Buhay party-list Rep. Lito Atienza has filed a resolution calling for a congressional inquiry into the disappearance of the Botong Francisco mural from its “rightful place” in the Bulwagang Antonio J. Villegas of the Manila City Hall.

“We have filed a resolution calling for an immediate Congressional Inquiry into the whereabouts of the masterpiece by National Artist Carlos ‘Botong’ Francisco,” he said.

Atienza, a former Manila mayor, observed that only a tarpaulin replica of the mural was in place of the mural when he attended Mayor Isko Moreno’s inauguration.

“When I attended the inaugural ceremonies of newly-elected Mayor Isko Moreno a few weeks ago, I saw that instead of the Botong masterpiece, what was installed in the Bulwagan is a poor tarpaulin replica! This is not only illegal, but it is a big slap to Manilans who are asking the question – where is our masterpiece?” he said.

“It behooves all administrations of the city to protect its existence. This used to be the major attraction in the Office of the Mayor. During our nine years as Mayor, every visitor, Manilan or foreign, always marveled at the grandeur of this priceless artwork,” Atienza said.

“That painting belongs to Manila and should be re-installed in City Hall. We will push for this Congressional Inquiry to pinpoint responsibility for this injustice to the people of Manila. And if necessary, charges should be filed against those who have been remiss in their duty to safeguard the interest of Manilans. This priceless artwork may now be worth billions of pesos,” Atienza stressed.

This priceless obra maestra entitled Filipino Struggles through History, was commissioned by then-Mayor Villegas in 1968,” Atienza said.

The mural depicts the history of Manila and “its important role in our nation’s history and development,” he said.

“This has always been a source of pride and inspiration for every Manileño and everyone who visited City Hall then. This is exactly the purpose of Mayor Villegas who appropriated public funds and commissioned the painting. No one has the right to loan or or lend it to anybody,” Atienza said.