MANILA, Philippines—The Supreme Court on Tuesday declared invalid the presidential order giving the National Artist award to Cecile Guidote-Alvarez, filmmaker Carlo J. Caparas, architect Francisco Mañosa and fashion designer Jose “Pitoy” Moreno.

SC information chief Theodore Te said the order in 2009 made by then president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo was voided because it was issued with “grave abuse of discretion.”

The controversy stemmed after musician Ramon Santos had been dropped from the list of nominees short-listed for that year by the selection committee and four other names had been added by the President’s prerogative.

The names allegedly came from Malacañang’s Honors Committee which made its own screening. After several protest, the case eventually reached the Supreme Court and stopped Malacañang from conferring the honor to the four individuals.

In its recent ruling, the high court said “there was a violation of the equal protection clause of the Constitution when the former President gave preferential treatment to respondents Guidote-Alvarez, Caparas, Mañosa and Moreno. The former President’s constitutional duty to faithfully execute the laws and observe the rules, guidelines and policies of the NCCA (National Center for Culture and Arts) and the (Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP) as to the selection of the nominees for conferment of the order of National Artists proscribed her from having a free and uninhibited hand in the conferment of the said award.”

“The manifest disregard of the rules, guidelines and processes of the NCCA and CCP was an arbitrary act that unduly favored respondents Guidote-Alvarez, Caparas, Mañosa and Moreno. The conferment of the Order of National Artists to said respondents was therefore made with grave abuse of discretion and should be set aside,” the high court further stated.