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MANILA, Philippines – “Drag is not a crime” – that is the call among drag artists and several groups after former Drag Den Philippines contestant Pura Luka Vega was arrested on Wednesday, October 4, for alleged absence from the preliminary investigations of their criminal case in Manila.
The arrest comes after Luka drew ire for their controversial “Ama Namin” performance which went viral in July. They were declared persona non grata in several localities and was even sued by religious groups.
Luka earlier explained that they never received a subpoena for the criminal case that was allegedly filed against them in Manila, adding they were in Quezon City to attend a hearing for a separate complaint.
The hashtag #FreePuraLukaVega quickly became the top Philippine trending topic on X (formerly Twitter) after news of Luka’s arrest broke. It still remains on the trending keywords as of Thursday, October 5.
Drag Den showrunner Rod Singh, who was among the first to break the news on social media, set up a donation fund to cover Luka’s bail, which amounts to P72,000.
As of 1 pm on Friday, October 6, supporters have managed to gather P552,899.22. Singh adds that the money will also now cover the flight of Luka’s mother to Manila.
The show’s reigning queen, NAIA, was also among the first to visit Luka at the Sta. Cruz police station with other artists such as SuperStarlet XXX and Worshipthegays.
“They’re not allowed to speak, but we gave her food and letters, and we were doing non-verbal communication, and she says she [loves you] all,” she said in a mix of English and Filipino.
NAIA also announced in a X post on Friday, October 6, that she will hold a fundraising bazaar and drag show on Sunday, October 8 at Brooklyn Warehouse in Sampaloc, Manila.
Other Drag Den contestants and host Manila Luzon were quick to show their support for the arrested artist.
Meanwhile, Drag Race Philippines alumni also showed their solidarity for Pura Luka Vega. Their arrest came hours before the airing of the season two grand finale.
Season two finalist M1ss Jade So said it’s “hard for me to be happy right now for Drag Race PH crowning while our sister Pura Luka Vega is in jail.”
Meanwhile, current Drag Race PH Miss Congeniality titleholder Hana Beshie was shocked by the news, saying there are more important things to worry about than getting Luka arrested.
Queer personalities Nica del Rosario and Mela Habijan also said that while people have the right to be offended by Luka’s “Ama Namin” performance, they believe arresting her is too much.
“[At] a time when the Filipino people are being robbed in broad daylight, when our fisherfolk are threatened, our leaders resort to denying a drag queen of their rights. Pura Luka Vega’s arrest is nothing more than a denial of their right to due process,” UP Babaylan said. – Rappler.com