Manila Mayor Francisco "Isko Moreno" Domagoso on Monday said he wants the immediate return of a series of paintings by National Artist Carlos "Botong" Francisco, from its current home in the National Museum.
"We have to [get it back]. It's ours. They have to give it to us because ang may-ari nun mamamayan nang lungsod ng Maynila," he said in an interview.
He added that he wants to return the mural to its original location but will consult experts on how best to protect the masterpiece.
Former Manila mayor and Buhay party-list Rep. Lito Atienza, Jr. earlier called for a congressional inquiry on the "disappearance" of the Botong mural titled "Filipino Struggles Through History" after the original work on Manila City Hall’s Bulwagang Antonio J. Villegas was replaced by a "poor tarpaulin replica" during the inauguration of Mayor Isko on June 30.
According to the National Museum, the mural suffered extensive damage due to a plumbing problem in city hall and was removed at request of then Mayor Alfredo Lim in January 2013.
The mural underwent restoration under the supervision of the National Museum, with funding by the Tourism Infrastructure and Enterprise Zone Authority (TIEZA) that was facilitated by then-Tourism Secretary Ramon Jimenez, Jr.
In 2017, Mayor Joseph Estrada and the Manila City Council allowed the original paintings to remain at the National Museum for enhanced public access and appreciation "to what can be considered as among the most famous of all Philippine works of art, perhaps second only to Spoliarium by Juan Luna (1884)."
Admission to the National Museum is free.