Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano drew criticisms for Kobe Bryant exhibit. Here’s why.

January 30, 2020 - 5:18 PM
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Duterte with House Speaker Cayetano
President Rodrigo Duterte speaks with House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano before delivering his fourth State of the Nation Address at the Philippine Congress in Quezon City, Metro Manila, Philippines July 22, 2019. (Reuters/Eloisa Lopez)

Following the error-rife statement of the Palace on Kobe Bryant’s passing, Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano hosted an exhibit featuring the NBA legend’s paraphernalia at the House of Representatives.

Bryant and his 13-year-old daughter Gianna, along with seven others, figured in a helicopter crash while on their way to a basketball game.

Social media immediately was flooded with messages of grief and condolences from both international and local fans. This even included Philippine government officials.

Cayetano, in particular, mounted an exhibit of Bryant’s memorabilia at the entrance of the House of Representatives on January 29. Among the items showcased are a rubber shoe and jersey shirts Bryant wore, posters and action bobbleheads.

The Speaker’s wife, Rep. Lani Cayetano (Taguig City-Pateros, 2nd District), shared that some of the items there were from the her husband’s personal collection.

While Cayetano’s supporters praised him for the honor, some Filipinos, even fans of the late basketball superstar, deemed this unnecessary given the many issues the government needs to address first.

“Sorry, malungkot yung balita abt Kobe pero ano kinalaman ng House of Representatives? Parang kalabisan lang ‘to from their end?” one fan said on Twitter.

Calls for the government to impose a travel ban against China grew amid the outbreak of the deadly new coronavirus strain called the 2019 nCoV.

The number of confirmed cases also continue to rise, as well as the death toll of sick victims in Wuhan, China, the epicenter of the outbreak.

Another user argued the motive for putting up a display for a late American athlete but not to victims of extrajudicial killings, jeepney drivers and displaced communities.

Prior to this, Malacañang unexpectedly released a statement on Bryant’s death despite it not traditionally considered of national concern.

The highest government office’s move to speak out about the passing of an international celebrity is rare. In the past, it often remarked on the passing of foreign officials whose countries or offices the Philippines has significant ties to.

Is it legal?

There’s no specific provision at the Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees that prohibits government officials from funding or hosting art exhibits and projects.

The norms and standards indicated in Section 4 is quite vague. It expresses the duty of public officials to prioritize the public over personal interests.

“Public officials and employees shall always uphold the public interest over and above personal interest. All government resources and powers of their respective offices must be employed and used efficiently, effectively, honestly and economically, particularly to avoid wastage in public funds and revenues.”

Tribute to the NBA legend

Fan tributes to the late NBA legend vary from larger-than-life murals of him and his daughter, lighting up buildings in some parts of Manila with the Lakers color scheme of purple and gold to a memorial wall for his fans at the Smart Araneta Coliseum in Quezon City.

Bryant had visited the country, where basketball is treated like religion, more than seven times.

“Legends are not born, they are created.” Thank you, Kobe Bryant.#Kobe24 #MambaOut #KobeBryant

Posted by Uptown Bonifacio on Monday, January 27, 2020