Lagman wants to decriminalize offending ‘religious feelings’
MANILA, Philippines — Albay 1st District Rep. Edcel Lagman is seeking to repeal what he called an “archaic” provision in the Revised Penal Code that penalizes people who “offend religious feelings.”
Lagman has recently filed House Bill No. 5170, which seeks to repeal Article 133 that imposes a penalty of arresto mayor in its maximum period (up to six months imprisonment) to prision correctional (up to six years imprisonment) in its minimum period to individuals “who, in a place devoted to religious worship or during the celebration of any religious ceremony shall perform acts notoriously offensive to the feelings of the faithful.”
He filed the measure in memory of late activist and tour guide Carlos Celdran, who was found guilty of “offending religious feelings” when he disrupted a service at the Manila Cathedral in 2010, holding up a sign with the words “Damaso,” in reference to the villainous priest in Rizal’s famous novel Noli Me Tangere.
Celdran’s act was in protest of the Catholic Church’s stance on the proposed Reproductive Health Law.
Celdran died of “natural causes” in Madrid, Spain, last October 8.
Lagman said that Celdran died a “freeman” because the Supreme Court failed to resolve with finality his pending motion for reconsideration.
He added that it is now up to Congress to accord justice and redress to Celdran by repealing Article 133, which, he said is “an odious remnant of the Dark Ages” and “offensive to the freedom of expression.”
The Albay lawmaker maintained that the said provision in the Revised Penal Code is “utterly subjective and leaves to the undue discretion of the court to divine the inculpatory element of ‘wounded religious feelings’ It is an amorphous offense and fails to set any objective standards on the gravamen of the crime.”
If enacted into law, House Bill No. 5170 would have a retroactive effect where all pending criminal cases, and related civil cases, shall be dismissed. /kga
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