MANILA – A group on Monday filed a criminal complaint for indecency and offending religious feelings before the Pasay City Prosecutor's Office against drag performer Pura Luka Vega (Amadeus Fernando Pagente) in connection with a series of videos of him depicting Jesus Christ.
In its 17-page complaint affidavit, the Kapisanan ng Social Media Broadcasters ng Pilipinas Inc. (KSMBPI) led by lawyer Leo Olarte accused Pagente of violation of the Revised Penal Code provisions on “offending religious feelings” (Article 133) and “immoral doctrines, obscene publications and exhibitions, and indecent shows” (Article 201) in relation to Republic Act 10175 (Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012).
The complaint involved six videos allegedly uploaded by Pagente on his account “puralukavega” on social media platform TikTok between July 2021 and June 27 of this year.
The group alleged that in these uploaded videos, Pagente is "patently seen to be mimicking and mocking 'Jesus', 'Jesus Christ' or 'Jesus of Nazareth', the central figure of Christianity".
"It is dominantly apparent that respondent willfully and knowingly exhibited immoral or indecent scenes or actions that are seriously and notoriously offensive to religious feelings and / or religion.” the complaint said.
The group said these acts shown on social media "(are) brazenly in violation of the law and (are) considered highly reprehensible and contrary to law, public order, morals and good customs”.
“Taking into account the whole subject TikTok videos, they seriously lack any literary, artistic, political or scientific value . The actions committed by respondent in his videos were not used for the sake of satisfying artistic tastes but rather for people desirous of fulfilling their morbid curiosity and taste, and lust, and for love for excitement including the youth who because of their immaturity are not in a position to resist and shield themselves from the ill and perverting effects of these videos,” it added.
Pagente was arrested on Oct. 4 in connection with the case filed against him by the Hijos del Nazareno-Central for violation of Article 201 of the Revised Penal Code - immoral doctrines, obscene publications and exhibitions, and indecent shows and Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012 for his controversial drag performance singing a punk rock remix version of the “Ama Namin” or The Lord's Prayer while clad in a costume resembling the Black Nazarene.
Apart from the case filed by the devotees of Jesus the Nazarene, the evangelical group Philippines for Jesus Movement also filed a complaint against Pagente.
Pagente was allowed to post bail set by Manila RTC Branch 36 acting presiding Judge Czarina Encarnacion Samonte-Villanueva in the amount of PHP72,000. He was released on bail on Oct. 7.
Another vlogger in hot water
The Philippine National Police (PNP), meanwhile, said it will probe vlogger Rendon Labador over privacy violations after he livestreamed a police raid at an online lending company in Makati City last week.
PNP chief Gen. Benjamin Acorda Jr. said he has directed the Directorate for Investigation and Detective Management to conduct an investigation, stressing that they do not encourage these acts and they will initiate measures to prevent a repeat of the incident.
“As of now, we are looking into the possible violation of MC (Memorandum Circular) No. 2023-053 titled Revised Media Relations Police dated Sept. 11, 2023,” Acorda said.
The Presidential Anti-Organized Crime Commission (PAOCC) and the PNP Anti-Cybercrime Group (ACG) conducted the raid on the firm alleged to be harassing clients who are unable to settle their debts on time.
Some relatives of those arrested in the raid cried foul over Labador’s livestreaming act as some of their faces were shown.
They also complained about the vlogger’s caption used in the livestream which they described as implying that the company’s employees are already guilty of the allegations.
“Meron ho negative reaction sa mga netizens at ang public in general sa pagkuha ng ACG nitong si Rendon Labador, PAOCC Usec (Undersecretary Gilbert) Cruz said nagulat siya na may kasamang vlogger, lumalabas sariling decision in (ACG spokesperson) Capt. (Michelle) Sabino yung pagkuha kay Rendon (There was negative reaction from netizens and the public in general to the ACG’s act of tapping Rendon Labador. PAOCC Undersecretary Gilbert Cruz even said he was surprised to see that there was a vlogger in the operation. It appeared that tapping Rendon was a personal decision of ACG spokesperson Capt. Sabino),” the PNP chief said.
Under the PNP’s revised media policy, only photos, names and details of validated crimes are released.
The premature release of information that may interfere with the investigation or apprehension of suspects or wanted persons is also avoided, Acorda added. (with Lloyd Caliwan/PNA)