BY RUBY SILUBRICO and GLENDA TAYONA
ILOILO City – For some, the Iloilo Esplanade is more than just a recreational space for walking, jogging, open-air dining, and a venue for river water sports. It is also a rendezvous for sex.
Two lovers were caught making out in a dimly-lit portion of the esplanade on Saturday night.
The city government’s Public Safety and Transportation Management Office vowed to tightly monitor the esplanade to avoid a repeat of the sex scandal.
The lovers were caught at around 8:30 p.m. They were told to put on their clothes then the police took them to the Mandurriao police station.
“A concerned jogger alerted the policemen posted at the esplanade about the couple in the portion of the esplanade in Barangay Tabucan,” said Police Major Marlon Valencia, Mandurriao police chief.
The man was 29 years old while his girlfriend was 19. Both were residents of this city.
“The esplanade is not a motel,” stressed Valencia.
He also said Mayor Jerry Treñas plans to put additional lampposts at the esplanade to discourage illegal activities there.
As to the arrested couple, Valencia said they would be charged with “grave scandal” which, under Article 200 of the Revised Penal Code, is any act that is highly scandalous as to offend against decency and good custom, and committed in a public place or within the public knowledge or view.
The Iloilo Esplanade is part of efforts to rehabilitate the 15-kilometer Iloilo River and maximize its economic and tourism potentials.
It was inaugurated in 2012 and in 2018 it was cited as “Best Landscape Architecture” by the National Commission for Culture and the Arts’ National Committee on Architecture and the Allied Arts.
Just this July, Ilonggo senator Franklin Drilon who lobbied hard for the esplanade’s realization urged Ilonggos to protect it after learning that vandals have been ruining portions of it and even stealing streetlights.
“I urge the Iloilo City police to be more vigilant in arresting these people. Ang mga binugoy nga opisyo nga kawaton ang mga suga…vandalism would not bring us anywhere,” said Drilon.
The esplanade sex scandal came a week after it was exposed that the second floor of the city’s Iloilo Terminal Market was being used by pimps for the commercial sex trade.
Spaces were rented out for P200 and most of the prostituted persons there were minors, both girls and boys, Iloilo City Task Force on Moral and Values Formation Nestor Canong told Mayor Treñas.
“How can this thing happen,” an aghast Treñas asked, pointing out that policemen and some city government personnel were tasked to secure the market.
He described the situation as “very alarming.”
“This will not happen again, I assure you. I apologize to the Ilonggos for the lapses of our personnel,” said Treñas./PN