Iloilo City

Iloilo mayor files cyber libel complaint over façade demolition criticisms

Erwin Delilan

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Iloilo mayor files cyber libel complaint over façade demolition criticisms

COMPLAINT. Iloilo Mayor Jerry Treñas files a cyber libel complaint against provincial information officer and local historian Nereo Lujan before the City Prosecutor's Office on Tuesday afternoon, May 21.

Jerry Treñas FB Page

Iloilo newspaper editor says a reporter is 'still reeling from the chilling effect' of the mayor’s outburst

BACOLOD, Philippines – Iloilo City Mayor Jerry Treñas filed a complaint for cyber libel on Tuesday afternoon, May 21, against the provincial government’s information officer, a move which resulted from criticisms directed at the city hall’s decision to demolish the 86-year-old art deco façade of the Iloilo City Public Market (ICPM) to make way for its redevelopment.

Treñas lodged the complaint against Nereo Lujan, also a local historian, for violation of the Cybercrime Prevention Act before the Iloilo City Prosecutor’s Office, a day after the mayor threatened to sue media workers who report allegations of wrongdoing against him in connection with the controversial façade demolition.

Lujan has alleged in his Facebook posts that the demolition was done despite the absence of no-objection certificates from concerned government agencies. He said the nearly century-old façade had historical and cultural heritage significance in Iloilo City.

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Although Lujan did not name Treñas in his post, the mayor said he felt alluded to.

Treñas maintained that the demolition had to be done, and the move was legal and based on the findings of experts on structural integrity.

Lujan declined to comment, but pointed to a message he posted on his Facebook page on Wednesday, May 22.

“Onion-skinned politicians are characterized by their hypersensitivity to criticism and dissent,” read part of Lujan’s FB post. “Politicians who react aggressively to criticism, whether through public outbursts, legal threats, or actual lawsuits, exhibit a profound misunderstanding of their role as public servants.”

Treñas made good on his threat to file a complaint against Lujan, a day after the mayor publicly apologized for his outburst during a press conference on Monday, May 20. He admitted that his reaction was uncalled for.

Francis Allan Angelo, editor-in-chief of the Iloilo-based Daily Guardian, said one of their reporters, Joey Marzan, was “still reeling from the chilling effect” of the mayor’s outburst.

Angelo said Marzan, who reported on the controversial demolition, “was the target of the mayor’s burning gaze and scathing words.”

During the controversial press conference at city hall, Treñas spewed invectives while he threatened to sue them for reporting that the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) Philippine commission was investigating the demolition.

Treñas said the secretary general of the UNESCO-National Commission of the Philippines, Dr. Ivan Anthony Henares, has denied the Daily Guardian report on May 18. Henares also serves as a National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA)  commissioner.

Meanwhile, the College Editors’ Guild of the Philippines (CEGP) in Western Visayas criticized Treñas for threatening the local media.

“Mayor Treñas’ reaction, including his threats to sue journalists, is not only unfortunate but also chilling. It is unbecoming of a public official who claims to champion freedom. While the mayor has apologized, his denial of the threats, despite evidence, casts doubt on the sincerity of his apology,” read part of the CEGP-Western Visayas statement. –

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