This is AI generated summarization, which may have errors. For context, always refer to the full article.
MANILA, Philippines – Controversial drag artist Pura Luka Vega was declared persona non grata or an “unwelcome person” by the Cebu City Council on Wednesday, August 16.
In a resolution authored by Councilor Pastor “Jun” Alcover Jr., the Cebu City Council said that “the limits of freedom must be recognized in tandem with social order, individual rights, and general welfare of the people.”
It cited the protection of religious freedom and belief in the Revised Penal Code which criminalizes “Interrupting Religious Worship” and “Offending Religious Feelings” among other penal laws.
Vega, whose legal name is Amadeus Fernando Pagente, was found to have committed “offensive and disrespectful acts in the social and cultural values related to the religious beliefs of Cebuanos,” according to the Cebu City Council.
This declaration was in response to Vega’s drag performance to an “Ama Namin” remix while donning a Black Nazarene costume. They posted a video of this to X, formerly known as Twitter, on July 10, drawing the attention of netizens, government officials, and religious groups alike.
Bishop Leo Alconga, Pastor Romie Suela, and Pastor Mars Rodriguez of the Philippines for Jesus Movement (PJM) filed a complaint against Vega on July 31.
“Tell me exactly what I did wrong,” Vega wrote in a post addressing the backlash they received. “I’m open for a dialogue and yet cities have been declaring persona non grata without even knowing me or understanding the intent of the performance.”
Cebu City joins 10 other localities that have declared Vega persona non grata.
The Sangguniang Bayan of Floridablanca, Pampanga declared Vega persona non grata on July 17, or a week after the video of their performance was posted online.
A copy of the resolution shared on the Facebook page of the office of Floridablanca Vice Mayor Michael L. Galang referred to Vega’s actions as “blasphemous acts targeting the Christian faith.”
“It is necessary to send a strong message of solidarity and support to the Christian Faith, while firmly denouncing such acts of blasphemy,” the resolution read.
General Santos City
The second locality to declare Vega persona non grata was General Santos City. In a Facebook post on July 18, the city government announced that the decision was made during the 40th Regular Session of the City Council.
“While the City Council recognized the Freedom of Speech and Expression and Freedom to Travel of [Vega], the resolution was meant to show the feelings and sentiments of the largely Christian population of the city,” the city government wrote in the post.
Toboso, Negros Occidental
On August 1, the municipal government of Toboso, Negros Occidental, passed a resolution declaring Vega persona non grata. It was authored by Councilor Richard Jaojoco.
The Bukidnon provincial government passed a resolution to declare Vega persona non grata on August 8.
“Not only is the viral video deemed blasphemous, it is also offensive, disrespectful, insulting, unacceptable and outrageous to the Christian religion and belief,” said the Bukidnon Provincial Board.
They claimed that Vega’s performance “demeans the sensibilities of our Christian brothers and sisters.”
Dinagat Islands declared Vega persona non grata on August 8, saying they “condemn the act of terrible blasphemous, disrespectful, and offensive performance to the image of our Almighty.”
As a result, Vega is “not permitted to enter and/or to come, and to operate business in the territorial jurisdiction of Dinagat Islands.”
City of Manila
The City of Manila followed with its resolution on August 9, through a unanimous vote of the City Council.
In an Inquirer interview with Manila Councilor Ricardo “Boy” Isip who authored the resolution, he said: “Anumang klase ng pananampalataya ay dapat nirerespeto (All forms of faith should be respected).”
“Yearly ginugunita ng milyong Filipino ang Nasareno, maski pandemya, tuloy-tuloy,” he stated. “Kung saan pa matatagpuan ang tahanan ng Hesus Nazareno, tayo pa ba ang ‘di kikibo at di maglalabas ng saloobin?“
(Millions of Filipinos honor the Black Nazarene every year without fail, even during the pandemic. Will we not act in the very place where the Black Nazarene is found?)
Cagayan de Oro
The Cagayan de Oro Council passed a resolution declaring Vega persona non grata on August 14. It was introduced by City Councilor Ian Mark Nacaya.
In the resolution, the council expressed its belief that the drag star displayed “series disrespect and mockery of the Christian faith by portraying himself as the Black Nazarene dancing to a remix of the ‘Ama Namin’.”
On August 12, the Sangguniang Panlalawigan of Nueva Ecija declared Vega persona non grata. The author of the resolution, Board Member Jojo Matias, said they had received complaints from religious groups about the video.
“Freedom of expression is not a license to disrespect or discriminate [against] someone else’s belief,” he said in a Facebook post sharing his interview with News5. “It so [happens] that Jesus Christ is someone that [a] majority of the Filipinos love, revere and adore.”
In a Facebook post made on August 14, Laguna board member Christian Niño Lajara announced the province’s declaration of Vega as persona non grata.
Lajara wrote, “We should not tolerate any attacks or disrespect towards our cultures and beliefs.
He said that through the declaration, “we are reminding everyone that being a celebrity or personality should never be an excuse to offend or insult our traditions and beliefs.”
The Provincial Information Office of Occidental Mindoro released an announcement regarding their declaration of Vega as persona non grata in a Facebook post on August 17. The resolution was passed by the Occidental Mindoro Provincial Council led by Vice Governor Diana Tayag.
“Ito ay kinakailangang gawin upang magsilbing aral at hindi na pamarisan (This must be done to serve as a lesson and to prevent it from becoming a precedent),” the post read.
Pura Luka Vega is a drag artist known for appearing in Drag Den, a drag reality television series that premiered on Amazon Prime in December 2022. – with reports from Luna Coscolluela/Rappler.com
Luna Coscolluela is a Rappler intern.