SC upholds Manila court’s guilty verdict for Carlos Celdran
The Supreme Court upheld a Manila Court’s decision that found Carlos Celdran guilty of “offending the religious feelings” when he pulled off his “Damaso” stunt in September 2010 at an ecumenical service inside the Manila Cathedral in Intramuros to show his opposition to the passage of the then controversial Reproductive Health Bill.
In a Facebook post on Monday, Celdran said the high court’s First Division denied his motion to reconsider the Court of Appeals’ ruling affirming an earlier decision by the Manila Metropolitan Trial Court Branch 4 and the Manila Regional Trial Court Branch 32 to convict him for “offending religious feelings,” which is punishable under the Revised Penal Code.
”It’s come to pass. My appeal in the Supreme Court has been denied and my sentence is upheld. Three months minimum to a year and a month and a day maximum,” Celdran said in his post along with a copy of the resolution of the SC’s First Division dated March 21.
Celdran cited freedom of speech in his motion seeking an acquittal.
Celdran had argued that the sign he used in his protest, which has the words “Father Damaso,” was a political speech and was his way of conveying to the priests that he strongly opposes their stand on the RH Law.
But the appellate court in affirming the trial court’s decision dismissed Celdran’s arguments that a provision of the Revised Penal Code shield religion from criticism. This prompted Celdran to take his case to the Supreme Court.
“The petitioner failed to sufficiently show any reversible error in the uniform findings of the Metropolitan Trial Court, the Regional Trial Court, and the Court of Appeals, so we resolve to deny the instant petition,” part of the SC ruling read.
In 2016, then Solicitor General Florin Hilbay asked the high court to acquit Celdran of the crime, saying that the case, under Article 133 of the Revised Penal Code, is “unconstitutional,” and that the prosecution failed to prove beyond reasonable doubt that Celdran is indeed guilty of the offense for which he was charged. /ee
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