ILOILO City – Mayor Jerry Treñas apologized to the community of lesbians, gays, bisexuals, transgender, and queer for his “insensitive” choice words in comments made on the legal battle between rival power distributors Panay Electric Co. (PECO) and MORE Electric and Power Corp. (MORE Power).
“In my passion to protect people’s interest against this power struggle that continues to affect Ilonggos, I have been insensitive in my choice of words that seemingly discriminated the LGBTQ,” the city mayor said in a statement yesterday.
Appealing for speedy resolution to the cases PECO and MORE Power filed against one another, an exasperated Treñas said on Monday, “Indi pwede ang korte mag inagi (courts can’t be sissies). They will have to decide one way or the other.”
Realizing the blunder, Treñas stressed it was not his intention to offend members of the LGBTQ community.
In fact, he said, the city government even established the LGBTQ Office at city hall to address the special concerns of the community.
The city government has been “highly supportive” of the community’s activities, he stressed.
During an ambush interview with journalists on Monday, Treñas warned of dire consequences if the uncertainty on the power distribution here lingers indefinitely.
MORE Power secured a 25-year power distribution franchise here in February. But PECO, whose franchise expired early this year, questioned the constitutionality of MORE Power’s franchise. The case is now with the Supreme Court. On the other hand, MORE Power filed an expropriation case to take over PECO’s power distribution system. The Regional Trial Court Branch 35, however, suspended the proceedings last month.
“Kon ang korte mag inagi kag magpalagyo (If courts become feeble and cowardly) then you are opening the whole situation for people to take the law into their hands,” said Treñas, a lawyer. “Ang bilog nga syudad apektado dasun ga-inagi pa ang iban nga korte (The whole city is affected while some courts are taking their time). Indi pwede ‘na (This is not acceptable).”
Members of the LGBTQ community quickly blasted Treñas on social media.
Acknowledging his gaffe, Treñas stressed, “I express my utmost apology to the LGBTQ and to everyone who were slighted by my statement. Rest assured that I and the city government always have the best interest of the LGBTQ community at heart.”
Iloilo Pride Team, an LGBT organization, “accepted with warm hearts” the mayor’s apology.
“This self-criticism shows at least a sensitivity that is evident of a move to make Iloilo a safe space for all,” according to the group.
The use of the word “inagi” in a derogatory manner, it added, mirrored “the common perception that wavering, vacillation or non-action is similar to being gay.”
It was a manifestation of the long history of patriarchy in Philippine society and politics, the group added.
“For the longest time being gay is associated with cowardice when in fact it is the bravest thing one can do for oneself. Coming out as gay in a country fraught with discrimination, bullying, gender-based violence, and stigma is an act of courage. ‘Inagi’ is now about standing up for equality and not a sign of cowardice,” according to Iloilo Pride Team./PN