Treñas-Lujan row escalates   with Ombudsman case  

By Alex P. Vidal 

“Most quarrels amplify a misunderstanding.” —Andre Gide

THE filing of administrative complaints by Iloilo historian and Capitol executive Nereo Lujan against Iloilo City Mayor Geronimo “Jerry” Treñas was needed in order for Treñas to answer all the accusations leveled against him in relation to City Hall’s recent decision to demolish the 80-year-old art deco façade of the metropolis’ Iloilo Central Market.

As a lawyer, we’re sure Treñas would welcome the cases and face his accuser or accusers “in the proper forum.”

As a heritage worker, Lujan, one of the major accusers in the brouhaha, was duty bound to lodge the official complaints or he would be guilty of dereliction of duty if he did not.

If no cases were filed in court (in this case, in the Office of the Ombudsman) after the demolition ruckus turned into a tidal wave in as far as public discussions are concerned, all the word wars mostly in the social and mainstream media involving Treñas and Lujan would be pointless and indecorous.

Something must be resolved and ironed out in the so many questions and confusions that have attended the controversial demolition of the public market art deco, including the adverse reactions of those who opposed it led by Lujan.

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In court, both parties would be given the chance to present their sides in the subject matter. In court, there would be no more unnecessary verbal shootouts, only the merits of the complaints.

Was Treñas right to invoke public safety to be the main reason for the demolition and repair, or he violated the laws and committed grave misconduct, grave abuse of authority, conduct unbecoming, and acts prejudicial to the interest of service when he ignored the tourism zone without proper clearance from the National Historical Commission of the Philippines (NHCP) as alleged by Lujan?

According to Lujan, “heritage conservation laws exist for a reason: to protect and preserve our cultural and historical assets for future generations.”

He added in a social media post: “The public market in question is not just any structure – it is one of the 32 heritage buildings within a declared historic zone, safeguarded by law. The demolition of such a significant site requires a rigorous process, including obtaining explicit approval from the appropriate cultural agency. This approval should be documented through a board resolution, a transparent affirmation that all legal steps have been meticulously followed.”

“The mayor’s press statement asserting that ‘all provisions of law on the matter’ were followed, while reassuring on the surface, leaves a crucial question unanswered: Where is the board resolution from the appropriate cultural agency approving the demolition? If all legal provisions were indeed adhered to, presenting this resolution should be straightforward. Its absence suggests a potential breach of legal and ethical obligations, casting doubt on the mayor’s claims.”

Lujan added: “The destruction of heritage sites without proper authorization is a serious matter. It not only violates legal norms but also erodes the cultural fabric of our society. Historic structures like the Art Deco market embody the collective memory and identity of the people. Their preservation is not merely about maintaining old buildings but about respecting and cherishing our shared history.

“The commitment to completing the project on time should not override the need for legal compliance and cultural preservation. Speed and efficiency are important, but they should not come at the expense of our heritage and the rule of law. The integrity of the process matters as much as the outcome.

“In this light, the mayor’s assertion of lawfulness rings hollow without the necessary documentation. If the demolition was indeed approved, it is imperative that all necessary papers be made public. This would not only validate the mayor’s claims but also demonstrate a genuine commitment to upholding the laws designed to protect our heritage. But if the mayor can’t show proof that the demolition was approved, then he better prepare for his indictment.”

We will wait for the court to decide.

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THERE is a very interesting incident in our history about a woman arrested for committing adultery.

Although the woman in this account was caught in an act of sin, Saints and Scoundrels of the Bible narrates that she was “most definitely an innocent party in the Pharisees’ attempt to trap Jesus with his own words.”

This sinful woman came face-to-face with the Messiah, it adds.

One day while Jesus was teaching the crowds in the temple courts, “teachers of the law and the Pharisees brought in a woman caught in adultery” (John 8:3 NIV).

Saints and Scoundrel of the Bible narrates: But these men who seemed so concerned about the law were disregarding it themselves–they had arrested only one of the guilty parties, and adultery takes two people.

They brought only the woman to Jesus, suggesting that she had been hired into the relationship for the sole purpose of trapping her partners.

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“They made her stand before the group and said to Jesus, ‘Teacher, this woman was caught in the act of adultery. In the law, Moses commanded us to stone su ch woman. Now what do you say?” (8:35).

In their eyes, Jesus could have no right answer. If he said, “Stone her,” then they could report him to the Roman authorities, who didn’t allow Jews to carry out executions.

If Jesus said they should let her go, then he would be guilty of violating the law of Moses.

While the woman stood by, fully expecting death to come quickly, Jesus stooped and wrote on the ground with his finger.

The Bible dosen’t tell us what he wrote, or if the woman was close enough to read it.

He may have been listing the sins of the accusers, assumes the book co-authored by Linda Chaffee Taylor, Carol Chaffee Fielding, and Drenda Thomas Richards.

Regardless of the message, they kept questioning Jesus until he stood up and said to them, “If any one of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her” (John 8:7).

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Evidently, continues the book, the older men in the group were more aware of their sins than the younger men.

As they slipped quietly away, one by one, the older ones first, the woman’s sense of dread must have changed to confusion.

She had been so close to death–what would happen to her now?

Then the Master turned to her and asked, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?”

“No one, sir,” she said.

“Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared. “Go now and leave your life of sin (8:10-11).

With those words the woman received forgiveness. Jesus did not condone her sin but, rather, told her to change her ways, to turn over a new leaf.

(The author, who is now based in New York City, used to be the editor of two daily newspapers in Iloilo.—Ed)

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