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Lawmakers take offense at drag queen's performance of 'Ama Namin' remix

By John Patrick Magno Ranara Published Jul 13, 2023 7:12 pm Updated Jul 14, 2023 11:39 am

Several lawmakers have voiced out their ill sentiments on the Filipino drag queen who sang an Ama Namin remix to a cheering crowd at a bar, all while clad in an outfit that seems to portray Jesus Christ.

Pura Luka Vega, a former contestant on the reality TV show Drag Den Philippines, posted a video of herself singing the Ama Namin remix while wearing an outfit that resembled Jesus Christ.

The video quickly went viral, with some people condemning Vega's performance as blasphemous, while others defended it as an expression of art.

Senate President Juan Miguel Zubiri has weighed in on the issue, saying that Vega's act was "the height of the misuse and abuse of freedom of expression that borders on criminal activity."

"It offends the sensibilities of our Christian brothers and sisters, deeply demeans the faith of millions of Filipinos, and dangerously scales the boundaries of protected speech and expression," he said in a statement.

According to him, Vega could be charged with violating Article 201 of the Revised Penal Code, which he said punishes those who "offend any race or religion in the performance of obscene or indecent plays, scenes, acts or shows in theaters, fairs, or any other place."

On Twitter, Sen. JV Ejercito reposted the video of the drag artist's performance with the caption, "This is blasphemy. This disrespects my faith. This went overboard."

Sen. Risa Hontiveros, who is an avid supporter of the LGBTQ community, also could not help but shake her head at Vega's performance.

"As a woman of faith, I admit I personally find this regrettable. Alam ko madami ding miyembro ng LGBTQIA+ community, persons of faith among them, find this regrettable," she said. 

However, she stressed that the incident should not be used to condemn the queer community even further, "I also caution against the use of this incident to deny rights and protections to a community that has long been marginalized and excluded."

Moving forward, Hontiveros expressed her wish for self-reflection, compassion, and healing for both the religious and LGBTQIA+ communities, highlighting that their platforms "should build bridges."

Bataan Rep. Geraldine Roman, the Philippines' first transgender woman lawmaker, also aired her disapproval of what Vega did.

"As a Catholic, I feel offended," Roman told ABS-CBN News in a text message. "Kailangan pa ba ng ganitong klaseng provocation? Anong ambag nito sa LGBT rights?"

"Your rights end where the rights of other begin. Umayos kayo," she continued, asserting that such acts "do not help the cause for acceptance and equality."

Roman further stated that she feels sympathy for those who were offended by the drag artist's performance.

"Sa mga Katoliko na na-offend, I feel for you. Kasama ninyo akong nasasaktan. Pero sana 'wag niyong isipin na lahat kami sa community ay ganito. Maraming LGBT+ ang nagmamahal at naglilingkod sa Dios at Simbahan," she said.

Atty. Chel Diokno, for his part, explained the elements of the crime of offending religious feelings under Article 133 of the Revised Penal Code.

"Kung batas ang pag-uusapan, totoong krimen ang 'offending religious feelings' sa Article 133 ng Revised Penal Code. Pero may dalawang elementong dapat patunayan: Una, ang inirereklamong akto ay ginawa sa lugar ng pagsamba o sa pagdiriwang ng seremonyang panrelihiyon," he tweeted.

"Pangalawa, ang ginawa ay "notoriously offensive" sa mga mananampalataya (ibig sabihin, kinutya ang isang religious dogma; nilibak ang seremonyang panrelihiyon; o nilalaro o sinira ang isang object of veneration.)"

Diokno added that if the act was not done in a place of worship or in the middle of a religious ceremony, it won't be counted as a crime. He furthered that in Article 201, one must prove the "obscenity" of the act or if it has no artistic or political value.

"Ginagarantiya ng Saligang Batas ang kalayaan sa pananalita at pagpapagayag, maging sanhi man ito ng galit o kontrobersiya: 'The right belongs as well—if not more—to those who question, who do not conform, who differ,'" he added.

Meanwhile, in a statement published on Twitter, Vega addressed anew the controversy she garnered because of her performance. 

"I understand that people call my performance blasphemous, offensive or regrettable. However, they shouldn’t tell me how I practice my faith or how I do my drag. That performance was not for you to begin with. It is my experience and my expression, of having been denied my rights," she wrote.