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What does persona non grata mean?

By: Morexette Marie B. Erram August 17,2023 - 08:15 PM

Pura Luka Vega: Persona non grata in Cebu City

(UPDATED) CEBU CITY, Philippines – On August 16, Cebu City joined the number of local government units (LGUs) in the country to impose a persona non grata status on drag artist Amadeus Fernando Pagente, popularly known as Pura Luka Vega.

Pagente received backlash, mostly from devout Catholics, following his controversial drag performance last July of the Ama Namin (The Lord’s Prayer), a sacred Catholic song.

Within weeks, multiple localities, including the capital Manila, declared Pagente as persona non grata. Before Manila, the province of Bukidnon, General Santos City in South Cotabato, and the municipalities of Floridablanca in Pampanga, and Toboso in Negros Occidental also made the same move.

All of these localities found the drag artist’s performance ‘offensive and blasphemous.’

Pagente is not the only celebrity and personality whom local officials declared a persona non grata.

But what does persona non grata mean?

Persona non grata is a Latin term that means ‘an unwelcome person’. Its application or enforcement, on the other hand, may vary.

In diplomacy, the United Nations (UN) Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations grants states the power to declare persona non grata on diplomats and other members of diplomatic missions [1].

This means that when a country declares persona non grata to a diplomat, they will be barred from entering that country.

Here in the Philippines, when local governments impose persona non grata on an individual, it may only serve as a ‘sentiment’, according to a legal opinion the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) issued in 2020 when the town council of Anahawan in Southern Leyte declared its newly installed mayor at that time persona non grata.

“While it is true however that a local Sanggunian like you may pass a resolution declaring your sentiment and that would include declaring a certain person as persona non grata, the same must be done within the bounds of law. That is, if such declaration is your way of expressing your sentiment, this is perfectly within your authority,” the DILG stated [2].

Simply put, the government cannot outrightly prevent someone declared persona non grata from entering their territory, unless they have legal basis.

In addition, lawyers pointed out that preventing someone from traveling to another place without legal basis violates their right to travel under the 1987 Constitution [3].

The right to travel may only be revoked in cases of national security, public safety, or public health, they added.


Kim Atienza ngadto ni Pura Luka Vega: I sincerely hope you develop the empathy

Pura Luka Vega after persona non grata tag by some LGUs: ‘Tell me exactly what I did wrong’



1. Oxford Public International Law: Persona Non Grata in: Diplomatic Law (

2. DILG Legal Opinions February 2020

3. What’s the effect of a persona non grata declaration? (


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TAGS: Cebu City, Cebu City Council, Cebu Daily News, cebu news, Drag, persona non grata

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