Write on the wall: Manila government denounces graffiti left by activists on recently cleaned underpass

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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.

Read: Interview: ‘Why’ graffiti artist

The pedestrian tunnel was cleaned from July to October to give the Manileños enough space to walk from Town Hall to Intramuros, and vice versa. In addition to re-coating the underpass, authorities also evicted several vendors who had moved inside, many of whom are said to have have not paid their taxes At the mayor.

The newly embellished surrounding area proved to be short-lived, however, with graffiti slogans criticizing the government appearing on the pristine white walls of the underpass overnight.

In a statement today, the Manila Tourism and Cultural Affairs Bureau said in Filipino that it was “saddened by this event. This [the underpass rehabilitation] was painstaking work, meant to improve and beautify our surroundings with the help of individuals in the hope of bringing back the beauty and zest of Manila.

He added: “Vandalism is not the answer to change. Discipline and understanding is what we need for a progressive Manila.

One of the graffiti slogans read: “CHEAP PRICES! HIGH PAY! ”, While another read:“ THE PHILIPPINES ARE OTHERS! US-CHINA GET OUT! Both were signed “PS”.

“PS” refers to the words Panday Sining (literally “The Art of the Blacksmith”), the cultural branch of the militant group Anak Bayan (“The Child of the Fatherland”), which claimed vandalism, ABS-CBN News reports.

Panday Sining announced on Twitter yesterday the launch of Graffiesta, a campaign they say was an answer 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 graffiti in Lagusnilad.

Anak Bayan spokesperson Al Omaga said ABS-CBN News that the red protest slogans in Lagusnilad were indeed created by Panday Sining. Rather than apologize, he added that the slogans are considered an art form.

But the local government in Manila did not see it exactly the same way, worryingly noting in a tweet posted by its information office “that there is an ordinance against vandalism in the nation’s capital.” He also published a copy of the Anti-Vandalism Law of 1999, which prohibits anyone from degrading public and private property without the consent of the government or its owner.

Those found guilty of vandalism face fines of up to PHP 5,000 (US $ 98) and even up to a year in prison.

So, do you think this graffiti was an art form? Let us know by leaving a comment below or by tweeting at @CoconutsManila.

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