Mayor considers cyber libel charges vs provincial official

ILOILO. Iloilo City Mayor Jerry P. Treñas.
ILOILO. Iloilo City Mayor Jerry P. Treñas.File photo

MAYOR Jerry Treñas announced on Monday, April 29, 2024, his intention to pursue cyber libel charges against a provincial official from the Public Information and Community Affairs Office (Picao).

Treñas said the official, whom he identified as Nereo Lujan, has been harassing him and his family on social media without justification.

"I am asking my lawyers to study the possibility of filing cyber libel cases against a provincial official of the PIO. He has been harassing me and my family for a long time already for no reason at all. I have finally had enough of his cyber harassment," he said in a statement.

The mayor emphasized that the official is not a member of the media but a government official who should adhere to ethical standards, particularly refraining from cyberbullying public figures.

"My instruction is to file as many counts of cyber libel cases as may be warranted. He is not a member of media. He is a government official who is supposedly guided by the code of ethical standards. Where in his list of functions is he duty-bound to cyberbully and harass the city mayor of Iloilo City," Treñas said.

He stressed the importance of letting the Philippine justice system determine the legality of actions, stressing that public officials should not engage in cyber harassment or ridicule.

"Enough is enough. I am a lawyer who practiced for 19 years before becoming a mayor. I want the legal system to tell me if Nereo Lujan, a provincial official, has the legal right to cyber-provoke, bully, harass, or ridicule me or my family year-round," Treñas said.

In response to Treñas's statement, Lujan, head of Picao, expressed his surprise at the accusations in a Facebook message on Monday, April 29.

He acknowledged his history of collaboration with Treñas, dating back to the 1980s, but pointed out recent disagreements, particularly regarding traffic issues and the demolition of the Iloilo Central Market.

"Hence, it was surprising when Mayor Treñas described my interview as an ‘attack’ on his administration during a press conference. While I acknowledge his frustration, especially considering that the rehabilitation of public markets is one of his flagship programs," Lujan said.

He clarified that his inquiries and comments on social media were aimed at seeking clarification and transparency regarding government actions, not at harassing or bullying the mayor.

"When government officials are open about their actions, decisions, and processes, it builds trust with the people they serve. Transparency allows citizens to understand the reasoning behind policies, expenditures, and initiatives, empowering them to participate more effectively in governance. It is not about airing dirty laundry. It is about ensuring that the public understands why and how decisions are made," Lujan said.

He asserted his right as a taxpayer and government employee to hold public officials accountable and ensure transparency in governance.

"In a democracy, transparency is essential because it enables informed citizens to hold their leaders accountable and helps prevent corruption and abuse of power. Therefore, being transparent is not just the right thing to do, it is the only way to ensure that government actions are truly serving the interests of the people," Lujan said.

"Mayor Treñas, I’m sorry if my actions have caused you distress. However, my intention was not to harass you but to seek clarification on the demolition of the Iloilo Central Market. While I am a government employee, I too am a taxpayer, and I believe it is important to hold our public officials accountable and ensure transparency in governance. If my inquiries have caused any discomfort, I express my regrets, but I stand by my right to seek answers," Lujan added. (Leo Solinap)

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