THE Philippine Center of the International PEN (Poets & Playwrights, Essayists, Novelists) condemned the anti-communist vandalism done to Popular Bookstore and Solidaridad Bookshop, which is owned by the late National Artist F. Sionil José. 

In a statement on March 23, the writers’ group decried the “red-tagging and thuggery” done to the two independent bookstores and called on police to “act with urgency” in investigating the incident.

“Bookstores are channels of free expression and free opinion that are necessary to the health and well-being of a democracy,” it said.

On the morning of March 22, the owners of the Tomas Morato-based Popular Bookstore said that the shop’s walls had been vandalized, with the words “NPA Terrorist” written in red graffiti. 

Solidaridad Bookshop, located on Padre Faura Street in Manila, told the Varsitarian that they found their signage in a similar red-splattered fate the same day.

The Philippine PEN said that bookstores carry out “debates and dialogues that are necessary to a functioning democracy.”

“Ideological tagging and the violence of political partisanship have sought to silence the bookstores, perhaps even kill and drive them out of business,” it said. “We urge enlightened Filipinos who care deeply for the health of our democracy to condemn the violence.”

Solidaridad Bookshop also serves as the headquarters of the Philippine PEN, whose founder José established in 1957. Alexandra L. Mangasar


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