Unfazed, convicted activist Carlos Celdran to go to SC
MANILA, Philippines–Unfazed by another court loss, artist and cultural activist Carlos Celdran intends to appeal before the Supreme Court his conviction for staging a protest at the Manila Cathedral in 2010, aiming to abolish the law that penalizes “offending religious feelings.”
Celdran’s netizen advocates took to social media to express their support, some of them drawing parallels between the Celdran’s conviction and the terror attack in France, where gunmen killed 12 journalists of a satirical newspaper in retaliation for the publication of cartoons deemed offensive to Muslims.
In a post on his Facebook page, Celdran said his conviction for violating Article 133 of the Revised Penal Code reflected a bigger problem in the Philippines.
“It saddens me to hear this decision upholding my conviction for ‘offending religious feelings.’ I’m sad not only for my case in particular, but for the Philippines as well. This conviction is just a symptom of a larger disease,” he said.
“There is a bigger picture of corruption and patronage in the Philippine justice system. We need to address these issues if ever we are to move forward as a people,” he added.
In a ruling last month, which was released only this week, the Court of Appeals upheld Celdran’s Dec. 14, 2012, conviction by the Manila Metropolitan Trial Court for protesting with a “Damaso” placard during ecumenical services at the Manila Cathedral on Sept. 30, 2010.
The placard, a reference to the oppressive friar who was a character in national hero José Rizal’s novel “Noli Me Tangere,” was in protest against the Church’s fierce opposition to the reproductive health measure, which was then still a bill, amid the continuing public debate.
Celdran later apologized for the incident.
In its ruling, the court cited how freedom of speech is not an “unbridled right,” and also denied Celdran’s bid to declare Article 133 of the Revised Penal Code as unconstitutional.
In his statement, Celdran said he would appeal the appellate court’s dismissal of his plea before the high court and again seek the removal of Article 133, saying the old law was obsolete.