By Raïssa Robles
The crime of “offending religious feelings” – for which Carlos Celdran was convicted is unconstitutional – believes Ibarra Gutierrez III, a criminal law professor at the University of the Philippines.
“I don’t think it’s constitutional,” he told me in an interview.
Gutierrez gave several reasons.
“First of all, it is strangely placed. It appears in one chapter of the Revised Penal Code – under “Crimes Against the Fundamental Laws of the State. Look at the other crimes (under this section). They all refer to a situation where a government official violates the Bill of Rights such as arbitrary detention, illegal search and seizure.
At the very last (of the same section), you have a crime that does not punish a government official who commits crimes against the Bill of Rights but a crime that offends religious feelings.
I looked and indeed the provision was strangely placed, tacked on like an afterthought.
The Bill of Rights does mention religion but only with respect to a person’s right to freely exercise it.
Prof. Gutierrez also expressed the belief that the State
“has no business prosecuting crimes anchoring on religious feelings. The problem is, it calls upon the court to make a determination of what the religious faithful will find offensive…what will ridicule the church.”
He said this would mean that the court would have to make a judgment in relation to doctrines of a particular church.
Third, he called the crime “archaic” and a throwback to the Spanish colonial period when the native population in the Philippines was ruled by a theocracy and Church and State were one.
To non-lawyers like me, the name “Revised Penal Code” was highly misleading since it initially gave me the impression the revision was recent. It turns out our Code of Crimes was last revised back in 1930 yet. It replaced the previous Spanish Penal Code but apparently carried over quite a number of the latter’s provisions.
I asked Prof. Gutierrez to recall previous cases where the court ruled that religious feelings were offended.
He said one case was penned by the late Justice Jose P. Laurel before World War II. It involved a man who had a non-Catholic buried with Catholic rites in a Catholic cemetery.
Another more recent case involved a man who – during a religious rally of the Iglesia ni Cristo, had climbed the stage and started debating with the church minister. In that case, he said, the lower court convicted the man. But on appeal, he was acquitted because the judge ruled that a religious rally held in a public plaza is not a religious ceremony, he explained.
So I guess Prof. Gutierrez has just answered a question I had posed earlier – if the Catholic Church chooses to have an outdoor religious ceremony-cum-rally against the reproductive health law, can those who might hold counter-rallies in the vicinity be held liable for offending religious feelings?
Gutierrez added that even if the Church holds a mass during a public rally, the gathering cannot be considered a “religious ceremony” defined under Section 133. “Not even if you do something offensive,” he said.
Still another case of initial conviction involved a drunken man who had entered a church while singing was going on during a service and who tried to grab the mike. The Court of Appeals reversed his initial conviction and said he was not guilty of offending religious feelings because his intention was not to ridicule the church beliefs. He was just drunk .
In the case of Carlos Celdran, Gutierrez said:
“I would assume, the decision (of the judge) zeroed in more on his action – the mode he had adopted to get his particular message across, the fact that he had disrupted a mass – more than on his purpose.”
Celdran said he will appeal his case. He had earlier apologized for disrupting an ecumenical service inside the Manila Cathedral two years ago by holding up a sign with the word “Damaso” on it and yelling at senior Catholic clerics to stop meddling in politics by trying to block the passage of a reproductive health law.
I guess Celdran had also touched a sensitive spot. The Church would rather forget the oppressive role it played during the Spanish colonial period, which national hero Dr. Jose Rizal had satirized in the two novels that the Church also tried to ban from being read in schools. Celdran twisted the knife in by dressing up like Rizal on the day he was executed for crimes against the State and the Church.
The one-man protest landed Celdran briefly in jail, which he cut short by posting bail.
Celdran then said:
“I really am sorry for the method but I hope you heard my message loud and clear. My message is unapologetic. But for interrupting the mass and ruining your day, sorry about that.”
Gutierrez noted that theoretically, Celdran can post bail despite his conviction, “while he is appealing the case.”
Uh, Oh – Who will be jailed next for “offending religious feelings”?
Mama Mary Hater
Carlos Celdran alleged “SIN” is nothing compared to the SIN of the asshole who posted this video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G4E87qFgMz0. Pls.somebody shutdown the ASSHOLE already!
Napi-feel ko na ito. Ramdam ko na ang passion ng mga tao dito sa blog ni Ma’am Raissa…nagngangalit…
Kaya nai-poste ko ito:
Katotong Parekoy, jokes naman diyan uli.
Para mahimasmasan naman tayo…
We sure need a breather.
check ko muna kung makapasok. hinaharang muna kasi ni Lord sa ulap…
Buti ikaw na-sequester lang. Ang sa akin naglaho na parang bula. :-(
na sequester don sa latest na topic yung juk.
I think it’s up na.
celdran could have opted for other ways to protest. he had sent his message and he has no regrets. hindi naman daw nagkagulo ang mga pari. they were more surprised than shocked i think. perhaps celdran should have adopted another “war” strategy – let the adversary fight among themselves.
how do you make priests fight among themselves? throw a young boy in front of the bishops and priests.
im sure this wouldn’t be “notoriously offensive”.
Occupy protesters chain themsleves To St. Paul’s pulpit ( a Church of England Cathedral, seat of Bishop of London
The Traditional solemnity of St Paul’s Sunday evensong was disrupted when four members of the Occupy London Movement, which camped outside the cathedral for FOUR months chained themselves to the base of the pulpit.
When the choir sang, four women dressed in white shouted their own semon to mark the anniversary of the start of of the Occupycamp outside St Paul’s accusing the cathedral authoriries of colluding with banks and failing to help the poor.
Occupy was right – all the church could say was “go home, leave the premises or face court action.
Source: guardian.co.uk, 2012 October 14, Occupy protest
The Occupy London Movement campaign and the actions they undertook are much heavy handed , yet the police tried to disperse them later on, but no charges. Celdran’s “offense” is considerably lighter than Occupy London yet he was charged and sentenced for jailtime for about a year.Are British authoriries/ judges more compassionate, forgiving, and merciful than the Filipinos? Do Filipino judges charge the offenders with sentences based on their economic and social status?.
The Pope pardoned ex-butler who stole, leaked documents. Again , it tells of forgiveness, mercy and compassion to the church’s flocks. Right there and then, when celdran was arrested by police, the cathedral priest could have said to the arresting officer ” we don’t want him charged, let him go home, will discuss the matter with him tomorrow, we’ll deal with him”. The church should practice what it preaches to the flocks.
vander anievas says
sa totoo lang, humanga ako sa bilis ng mga pangyayari. hanga ako sa ating korte ngayon. mabilis ang paghatol. may improvement na yata. uunlad na ang bansa…
no more “justice delayed, justice denied” era.
itong kaso ni caloy ay ni wala sa kalingkingan ng marami pang kaso na nakabimbin sa ating mga korte. hindi ko naman sinasabing mas dapat unahin o mas dapat pag-ukulan ng malaking pansin ang ibang kaso. humanga lang talaga ako sa bilis nang pagkakahatol. hindi ko naman siya kinakampihan. mali namang gumawa ng alingasngas sa isang taimtim na pook, maging ikaw man ay isang kapatid sa isang pribadong kongregasyon. mali namang pagbintangan na padre damaso ang hindi naman tunay na damaso.
great, may improvement na sa ating hudikatura. oee!!
ano ito? ganti ba ito sa pagkakapasa ng rhbill na dahilan ng pag-iingay ni caloy?
o isang pagkakataon lamang?
totoo, para sa akin ay nakagawa si caloy ng isang bagay na labag. labag sa gmrc. labag sa kagandahang-asal. nag-ingay siya. nanakit ng damdamin ng ating kapatiran.
bakit sila nasaktan? nabasa rin ba nila ang nobela ni gat jose rizal? sila rin ba ay katulad ni padre damaso? ganoon na ba talaga kasama ang maihambing kay padre damaso mahigit ng isang siglong nakakaraan?
tayo ba ay mga isip-bata na sa ganun lang na masamang asal ay magpapakulong na?
ang isang community service ay sapat na sa aking palagay.
napakaraming heinous crimes na ang may kagagawan ay hindi naipapakulong.
hindi ito tagumpay ng isang matalinong paghuhusga, sa tingin ko ito ay isa na namang produkto ng kapritso na kawangki ng panahon ng mga mapuputing binti.
ang dapat nating ipakulong ay iyong mga nagnanakaw sa kaban ng ating bayan.
iyong mga nandaraya sa halalan.
iyong mga pumapatay.
iyong mga nanghahalay.
iyong mga nam-bu-bully sa pribado man o publiko.
si padre damaso ay matagal nang namatay. huwag na nating buhayin.
o baka naman si padre damaso ay sadyang buhay pa. ay sino naman kaya si padre damaso sa makabagong panahong ito? sino siya? sino ka? sino ka? sumagot ka…magpakilala ka sa amin…
Law is Law and people should abide by it. What about if a certain Law is oppressive, discriminating, despotic, broad and ill-defined?
Ikaw Rolly na isang kahig isang tuka, ginulo mo ako habang nanalangin sa loob ng simbahan…sinaktan mo ang aking damdamin. Mayaman ako, kita mo, nababalot ako ng mga alahas…ipakukulong kita! Ikaw naman Pepe, kahit mayaman ka rin at meyor ng Babuyan Island, ididemanda kita ng libelo dito sa Ampatuan country…tingnan ko lang kung makapanood ka pa ng Pinoy Henyo. Ikaw rin Pedro, naki like-like ka sa Facebook kay Mayor Pepe sa pagsasabing peke ang ilong ko, pati ikaw kulong.
We don’t want this kind of Laws in our midst. We don’t want to live on the edge. We don’t want to be in constant threat of imprisonment by impulse and whims.
My emphasis is for people to unite, help one another, yell with one voice in denouncing such Laws and hopefully dispose them altogether. Celdran incidentally opened up this resurrected Law into public view, and it is for us people (netizens especially) to act. May this case be the catalyst in the progression and improvement of forging future Laws in this rapidly changing world of ours.
@Rolly…as I pointed out below on @baycas’ placed Inquirer Editorial, Art. 133 RPC, factually created and resulted in an unjustified conviction based on “wonderments” on prosecution witnesses testimony of their feelings. You’re right, this Art. 133 must be repealed soon, the sooner the better for freedom of speech and of religion.
ganoon din ang RA10175, Cybercrime Law.