Celdran to appeal 'Damaso' ruling, hits law on 'religious feelings'

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Aug 10 2018 03:38 PM

MANILA - Cultural activist Carlos Celdran on Friday said he will appeal the Supreme Court's decision to incarcerate him for offending clergy, and called for the repeal of a provision from the penal code that protects religious feelings.

Celdran is facing jail time after the High Court said he was guilty of violating Article 133 of the Revised Penal Code that prohibits individuals from performing acts that are "notoriously offensive to the feelings of the faithful."

Celdran in 2010 stormed the Manila Cathedral during an ecumenical meeting while dressed up as Jose Rizal holding a "Damaso" placard.

Padre Damaso is a character in Jose Rizal's Noli me Tangere novel that symbolized the Catholic church that meddled with state affairs during the Spanish colonization period in the Philippines.

"This is an archaic law that was done a long time ago as a way for the Spanish state and the Catholic church to control Filipinos during colonial times," Celdran said.

"With the coming of the Bill of Rights, freedom of speech is now enshrined above and beyond everything," he said.

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Celdran said he will file his final appeal on August 15 to ask the Supreme Court to discuss the constitutionality of Article 133.

"Freedom of speech is absolute. Only when it disempowers or harms somebody is the only time when it should be banned," Celdran told ANC's Early Edition.

"I did not use violence. I did not use hate speech. I did not hit anybody, nothing was broken," he said.

"Whatever happens to me will set horrible precedence. It will become a slippery slope for freedom of speech. Today it is about religion, tomorrow it could be about anything," he said.