Iloilo City

Iloilo mayor apologizes for outburst over old market façade demolition queries

Erwin Delilan

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Iloilo mayor apologizes for outburst over old market façade demolition queries

ILOILO CITY CHIEF. File photo shows Iloilo City Mayor Jerry Treñas during an emergency Zoom meeting led by Iloilo Governor Arthur Defensor Jr, with Department of Energy, National Grid Corporation of the Philippines and Power distributor utilities and Cooperatives on continuing power outage in Western Visayas, on January 4, 2024.

Arnold Almacen/Iloilo City Mayor

(1st UPDATE) The outburst stems from the demolition of the art deco façade of the 112-year-old Iloilo City Public Market, part of a P3-billion rehabilitation plan

BACOLOD, Philippines – Iloilo Mayor Jerry Treñas apologized for his outburst after reporters raised questions about the demolition of an 86-year-old art deco façade at the Iloilo City Public Market, during a news conference on Monday, May 20.

During the press conference, Treñas blew his top and lost his composure as he threatened to sue those who would report about the contentious demolition of the old market façade.

Treñas’ outburst, directed at reporters questioning the demolition, was widely criticized on social media, with many describing his reaction as unprofessional and arrogant. 

Hours later, on Monday night, city hall’s public information office released a statement from Treñas about the incident.

“I would like to apologize for my outburst this morning. This was uncalled for,” read his statement.

The mayor’s outburst stemmed from the demolition of the art deco façade of the 112-year-old Iloilo City Public Market, a project which is part of a P3-billion market rehabilitation plan involving a public-private partnership with SM Prime Holdings Incorporated (SMPHI). 

Based on an April 18, 2024 report of the Iloilo-based Daily Guardian, the façade was demolished to facilitate the market’s redevelopment.

On May 18, the same newspaper initially reported that the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) was looking into the controversial demolition. However, after clarification, they updated the report to indicate that it was actually the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA) conducting an informal investigation.

Treñas has maintained that the demolition was legally justified, with documents to support the local government’s actions. 

He said preserving the façade was initially planned, but it was found structurally unsafe. The first option, he said, was to retrofit but such would distort the original design, so the decision was made to reconstruct.

Constructed on January 15, 1912, with the art deco façade added in 1938, the Iloilo City Public Market has been a historical landmark. 

“I’ve never seen Mayor Jerry Treñas this mad, publicly berating and threatening to file cases against members of the press asking questions [regarding] the Central Market historical façade during his presscon. To the more discerning, they might perceive this as misplaced arrogance,” said Lemuel Fernandez, publisher of the Daily Guardian and a former president of the Iloilo Press Club (IPC).

Treñas admitted that his frustration was partly fueled by frequent criticisms of the project on Facebook by Nereo Lujan, a former journalist and local historian who now serves as an information officer for the Iloilo provincial government. 

Lujan did not name Treñas in his posts, which criticized the demolition for lacking a “letter of no objection” from the NHCP. 

Treñas, who felt alluded to, has announced plans to file a libel complaint against Lujan.

Lujan declined on Tuesday, May 21, to respond to Treñas’ threat. –

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