Drag queen Pura Luka Vega’s detention this week may just be the first of a series. A Manila court had him arrested for violating Revised Penal Code Article 201: Immoral doctrines, obscene publications and exhibitions, and indecent shows.
Complainant is Hijos del Nazareno. Vega in July had impersonated onstage the Black Nazarene of Quiapo Catholic Church. He lip-synced on video a rock remix of “Ama Namin” (“Our Father”), Jesus Christ’s prayer taught in the Bible.
Vega faces separate raps in a Quezon City court, which can also jail him. There the evangelical Philippines for Jesus Movement charged him with breach of The Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012 (R.A. 10175).
PJM counts political heavyweights as officers: Senate Majority Leader Joel Villanueva and his father House Deputy Speaker Eduardo Villanueva. Baptist pastor Rep. Bienvenido Abante is an ally.
Vega’s performance rankled Catholics, mainstream Protestants, and evangelical Christians who comprise 80 percent of Filipinos. Amidst criticisms, he invoked constitutional freedom of expression.
He also aligned with detractors: “[My] intent was to embody a version of Christ that is one with the queer audience. I just want to create a narrative that despite all of these, Jesus, as the embodiment of God’s love for all, does not forget the oppressed, including the LGBTQIA+ community.”
Lingayen-Dagupan Catholic Archbishop Socrates Villegas was unconvinced. “[The video] was a plunge into a deeper cliff of vulgar blasphemy,” he lamented. “[But] it was bound to happen in time.”
One of President Rodrigo Duterte’s staunchest critics in 2016-2022, Villegas cited “seeds of blasphemy that were planted during [his] six years in office.”
True, Duterte incensed Villegas’ co-religionists — yet got away with it.
In Nov. 2015, when nominated as PDP-Laban presidential candidate, Duterte cussed Pope Francis. “Putang ina ka, umuwi ka na, huwag ka na magbisita dito,” he recounted the traffic during the Vicar of Christ’s visit to Manila. The person who uploaded the remark guffawed in the background.
On his first Christmas as President, Duterte called Christ “shit”. Occasion: a convocation of 6,000 Davao barangay officials, Dec. 27, 2016. He fumed at Catholic hierarchs and Washington critics of his bloody war on drugs:
“Kanang Amerika, pareho pud ang simbahan sige mog panudlo (America and the Church are just the same… preaching), kay sige kag tudlo sa ako kamo naman pod, kay naa man pod kachumpay ra usa.
“Muningon ka na Duterte kay killer. Kay kamo, unsa man diay mo? Killer, kamo gani gapatay kay Kristo, karon ako pa’y ngil ad. Naay Ginoo, pero ayaw kabilib anang pageantry.
“Guapo kaayog mga beste, mamili lag…taas taas pang yawa’g Body of Christ, gold ang—ang butangan sang Body of Christ ang ostia, pan-os na. Body of Christ inyong igit [your shit].”
Transcripts are extant in the Presidential Communications Office archives: https://tinyurl.com/Duterte-27-Dec-2016.
How did fellow-Catholic school grads, Mass-goers, and communicants react to the President’s public mockery of the Holy Eucharist? Didn’t Duterte, as the highest official, impeachably violate the constitutional separation of Church and State? Shouldn’t he be indicted for breach of RPC-Article 133: Offending religious feelings?
“No comment,” said the son of Opus Dei-Philippines founding officers and sibling of supernumeraries, who was a Duterte campaign fundraiser. “It’s an issue between God and Duterte,” said the retired congressman from Ateneo who now leads weekend worships. “Accept Duterte for what he is, a kanto-boy,” chuckled the churchmate doctor about her fellow Mindanaoan president.
Clergymen were as noncommittal. “It’s a Catholic concern,” retorted a Protestant deacon, who said the Body of Christ for them means the congregation and not the Sacred Host. The Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines should issue a rebuke, but they’re busy auditing instead of shepherding, rued a foreign priest. “We mimic the silence of Christ before the mocking mob,” explained a radio commentator-priest.
Duterte escalated attacks on Christians. “Your God is stupid, mine has a lot in common sense,” he boasted in another gathering of Davao barangay men, on June 25, 2018.
In the Bible’s Creation story, Duterte harangued, that God foolishly planted a Forbidden Tree which caused the Fall from Paradise. Did the ex-state prosecutor know that he criminally insulted two other Abrahamic religions?
The Quran says the Forbidden Tree served as a test for Adam and Eve. God warned them to beware of the enemy Satan who, pretending to be a sincere advisor, will tempt them to partake of the Forbidden Fruit. Forgetting God’s command, Adam and Eve erred.
The Torah cites the Trees of Knowledge and of Life. Adam and Eve knew nothing about right and wrong, including their nudity. When they ate the Forbidden Fruit of Knowledge, God banished them from Heaven, thus depriving them of the Fruit of Eternal Life.
Catholics, Protestants, Evangelicals, Muslims, and Jews continued to give Duterte high acceptance and performance ratings.
Jarius Bondoc is an award-winning Filipino journalist and author based in Manila. He writes opinion pieces for The Philippine Star and Pilipino Star Ngayon and hosts a radio program on DWIZ 882 every Saturday. Catch Sapol radio show, Saturdays, 8 to 10 a.m., DWIZ (882-AM).
The views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial stance of LICAS News.