Drag artist arrested, posts bail in 2nd case

Drag artist arrested, posts bail in 2nd case

/ 05:36 AM March 03, 2024

Drag artist Pura Luka Vega was sent to jail a second time on Wednesday night, for another case arising from his controversial dance performance that some religious groups had denounced as blasphemy.

The drag artist known as Pura Luka Vega—INQUIRER FILE PHOTO/MARIANNE BERMUDEZ

Drag artist Pura Luka Vega was sent to jail a second time on Wednesday night, for another case arising from his controversial dance performance that some religious groups had denounced as blasphemy.

His accusers this time were churches affiliated with the religious group Philippines for Jesus Movement, which filed the case at Quezon City Regional Trial Court Branch 306.


The group sued him for allegedly promoting “immoral doctrines … exhibitions and indecent shows.”


Pura Luka Vega—whose real name is Amadeus Fernando Pagente—was first arrested on Oct. 6 last year based on a complaint arising from a YouTube video showing him singing the prayer “Our Father,” but as a “remix” dance number where he was dressed as the Black Nazarene before a cheering crowd in a bar.

The first case against Pagente was filed at a Pasay City court by a group of Nazarene devotees, accusing him of “offenses against decency and good customs” under the Revised Penal Code. If found guilty, he faces up to 12 years in prison.

Another complaint was filed in Tacloban City in November last year but was dismissed by the judge for lack of probable cause.

In the Pasay City case, Pagente was freed two days after his arrest. His supporters helped raise funds for the P720,000 bail.

He was arrested for the Quezon City case on Wednesday, the police finding him at the main office of the Department of Health in Manila, where he works as a senior program officer.

On Friday, his supporters again helped to get him out and raised funds for the P360,00 bail set by Judge Dolly Bolante-Prado.


In a message on X after his release, the 34-year-old Pagente remained defiant: “Drag is art; drag is not a crime.”

“The fight continues, life goes on,” he said. “There can be a hundred people in the room, and 99 don’t believe in you, but one does. I am happy with that.”

Rod Singh, director of Drag Den Philippines (a contest Pagente joined last year), said “the fundraising continues” in view of the drag artist’s mounting legal fees.“Good thing, there were kind-hearted people who lent us money,” Singh said.

Pagente has since been declared persona non grata by several local governments and continues to be the target of hate messages and death threats on social media.

READ: Pura Luka Vega released from police custody after latest arrest

In a recent interview with Agence France-Presse, he said that as a devout Catholic he performed the Lord’s Prayer to “reignite” a sense of faith among LGBTQ+ people who had felt shunned by the Church.

The LGBTQ+ alliance Bahaghari issued a statement denouncing Pagente’s latest arrest as an “attack on LGBTQ(+) people’s expression on their relationship with faith and religion.”

On Saturday, Kabataan Rep. Raoul Manuel said Pagente’s arrest “sends an ironic message of how controversial performances can be penalized to the fullest extent of the law, while individuals who claim to be God himself like (televangelist) Apollo Quiboloy, despite exploiting women and children in a sex trafficking scheme, remain beyond the reach of justice.”

The Student Christian Movement of the Philippines described Pagente’s accusers in court as being “Christians only in name.”

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“While it is true that we, Christians, may get offended by the performance of Pura Luka Vega, it is troubling that our sense of blasphemy is surface level, when Jesus would have been outwardly offended by the injustices and poverty under a sinful Marcos administration,” the group said. —WITH REPORTS FROM AFP AND KRIXIA SUBINGSUBING

TAGS: Artist, bail, drag, Pura Luka Vega

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