FEU student orgs express support for arrested drag artist

FEU Advocate
October 10, 2023 09:13

By Randy Espares Jr. 

Far Eastern University Central Student Organization (FEUCSO) together with various University-wide councils stand in solidarity with drag artist Pura Luka Vega following their arrest last Wednesday, October 4. 

In a statement posted by FEUCSO, student councils and organizations urged to withdraw the charges filed against Pura Luka Vega emphasizing that freedom of expression should not be repressed. 

“We demand that the authorities drop charges against Pura Luka Vega and acknowledge that free expression, particularly when utilized as a tool for protest and asserting safe space, must never be criminalized nor vilified,” the statement said. 

Amadeus Fernando Pagente, also known by their drag name Pura Luka Vega, made buzz on the internet after performing in a club dressed as the Black Nazarene which received backlash from netizens last June. 

They also sang a punk remix of the religious song ‘Ama Namin’ during their set. 

After the viral performance, Black Nazarene devotees Hijos del Nazareno-Central filed a complaint to Manila Prosecutors Office against Pagente this August. 

Regional Trial Court Branch 36 of Manila then issued an arrest warrant for violation of Article 201 of the Revised Penal Code and the Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012. 

The University’s student-led film organization FEU Film Society (FilmSoc) also issued a statement expressing their dismay regarding the situation. 

“It is disheartening to witness artists being put behind bars, thrown under the bus and labeled blasphemous for their unconventional forms of expression, stifling their ideas and creativity,” FilmSoc’s statement said.

Manila and 16 other cities declared the drag performer persona non grata for offending religious faith before their arrest. 

However, FEUCSO argued that the issue is primarily an issue concerning rights rather than religious beliefs.

“This is not about faith; it is about suppressing the voices of those who dare to challenge societal norms and fight for their rights,” the statement added. 

FEUCSO’s statement also demanded the passing of the Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity, and Expression Equality Bill due to the injustices faced by members of the LGBTQIA+ community. 

“We stand firmly with our fellow LGBTQIA+ in demanding the passing of the SOGIE Equality Bill. This crucial legislation is indispensable in providing essential legal protections against gender-based discrimination for every Filipino, regardless of their sexual orientation, gender identity, or expression,” it said. 

FEUCSO also added the one week closure of ‘It’s Showtime’ because of Vice Ganda and Ion Perez’s actions, as an example of unjust treatment to queer individuals in the mainstream media. 

Manila Police District Station 3 has discharged Pagente on bail as of this writing. 

Pura Luka Vega participated in the first season of Drag Den Philippines hosted by Rupaul’s Drag Race veteran Manila Luzon.  

(Photo Courtesy of FEUCSO and FEU Film Society)