Mayor won’t allow anti-SONA protest in the nude

ILOILO CITY – Mayor Jerry Treñas has refused to grant a permit to a nude protest by a local columnist during the State of the Nation Address (SONA) of President Macapagal-Arroyo on Monday.

Treñas told Peter Solis Nery of The Guardian that he could be arrested because what he planned to do would be considered as “indecent exposure.”

“If he will do that, we will enforce the law,” said the mayor.

Nery plans to disrobe at the Arroyo Fountain in front of the Iloilo Provincial Capitol on July 25 while the President delivers the Sona before members of Congress.

While listening to the Sona through a public address system, the naked Nery wants to make a running commentary on the President’s speech.

The Arroyo fountain is a historical landmark at the heart of the city. It was named after the late Sen. Jose Maria Arroyo, the grandfather of First Gentleman Mike Arroyo who represented the seventh senatorial district of Iloilo, Capiz, and Romblon from 1919 to 1928.

Nery said his protest would be part of the mounting clamor for Ms Arroyo to step down.

“My nude protest is my contribution to the unfolding history of our country,” he said in a letter to Treñas requesting for a permit.

Nery said he envisioned other protesters to join him as they may also be “inspired to undress and protest in the nude.”

Treñas said he consulted city hall lawyers and even met with Nery, discouraging him from staging his protest.

“I respect his constitutional right to protest but he should not do it that way,” he said.

Treñas, president of the League of Cities of the Philippines, is a staunch supporter of Ms Arroyo. He did not grant a rally permit to militants during the President’s visit here on June 30.

In a text message sent to the Inquirer, Nery said he was in a dilemma on what to do next after he was refused a permit.

“I thought that someone with a name and a face determined to go nude will jolt Ilonggos enough. That is my role, to shock them, and now they are starting to notice my call for (the President’s) resignation,” he said in his text message.

Nery discusses sex in his columns and considers himself a “celebrity writer with a real following.” He has posed nude for magazines and pictorials. He used to be a teacher and is also a licensed nurse.


© Ma. Diosa Labiste & Philippine Daily Inquirer: July 22, 2005