A government agency has joined customers and bookstore groups in condemning recent acts of vandalism and the red-branding of two independent bookstores with anti-communist writing.
In a statement on Facebook on March 23, the National Book Development Council expressed concern about the incidents, which they described as “an attack on knowledge institutions”.
“The National Book Development Board is extremely concerned about the vandalism of the two Philippine bookstores that have recently made headlines. We, along with our friends and partners in book publishing, condemn in the strongest terms these vicious acts,” the CBDB said.
“We believe this is an attack on knowledge institutions and harmful to democratic values that we, along with the rest of government, are bound by a duty to protect,” he added.
The facade and the logos of popular bookstore and Solidaridad Bookstore have recently been painted with red graffiti associating them with the communist rebellion.
The popular bookstore posted photos of the damage on Facebook last Tuesday. The vandals of their store read: “NPA Terrorista”.
Tuesday, Joel Pablo Saludauthor and journalist, also published photos of the Solidaridad panel with a vandal on which one can read: “NPA”.
Salud said he got these photos from those who run the bookstore.
Both bookstores were local businesses that had been in business for decades.
They also offer rare and progressive titles for book lovers.
Customers at both stores, including another called Bookay-Ukay Philippineswere indignant at the acts of vandalism and red marking of which they were victims.
LILY: Vandalism, red-labeling bookstores ‘attack on the right to free speech’, group, customers say
In its statement, the NBDB perceived that these “despicable” activities are detrimental to the entire book publishing industry in the Philippines as it is still reeling from the pandemic.
“These despicable acts harm not only the two independent bookstores fighting to stay afloat in this pandemic, but the entire Philippine book publishing industry. It doesn’t work at all because our country has a very low ratio of bookstores to population,” the agency said.
The Book Council also mentioned that the incident at Solidaridad, in particular, disrespects the memory of the late National Literature Artist F. Sionil Jose.
José owned Solidaridad. It was opened along Ermita, Manila in 1964.
Additionally, CDBN pointed out that reading books promotes critical thinking for the betterment of society.
“Books open minds and change worlds. Reading encourages people to think critically, share their views properly, and make better choices. Threatening and maliciously labeling bookstores would only harm the national good,” the council said.
They further expressed their support for all sectors of the publishing community to condemn these acts.
“We stand in solidarity with bookstores, content creators, publishers, industry workers, readers and all sectors of the publishing community in condemning these acts and calling for vigilance in protecting our common pleas: literacy, critical thinking and democracy,” CDBN said. .
The NBDB was formed under Republic Act 8047 or the Book Publishing Industry Development Act.
The main task of the agency is to “formulate and implement a national book policy with a corresponding national book development plan focusing on the development of the book publishing industry”.
Before that, the Manila Critics Circlea non-profit, non-equity organization of professional literary critics and newspaper columnists, also issued a statement who denounced the degradation of the windows of the Librairie Populaire and the Librairie Solidaridad.
Mt. Cloud Bookshop also condemned the disfigurement of their fellow booksellers.
“This attack on bookstores reveals one thing about authors: a damaging narrow-mindedness. Vandals should broaden their horizons and READ,” he said.