SC: "Damaso" stunt NOT protected political speech

NEWS BY PNA: The Supreme Court (SC) has affirmed the conviction of cultural activist Carlos Celdran for "offending religious feelings" and for barging inside the Manila Cathedral and denouncing the Catholic Church's opposition to the passage of the Reproductive Health Bill in 2010.

In a resolution dated March 21, the High Court's First Division denied Celdran’s plea seeking to reverse the Court of Appeals (CA) ruling, which upheld the decision of the Manila Metropolitan Trial Court (MTC) Branch 4 and the Manila Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 32 convicting him for “offending religious feelings” over his stunt.

“We agree with the CA in finding that the acts of petitioner were meant to mock, insult, and ridicule those clergy whose beliefs and principled were diametrically opposed to his own.”
The SC said Celdran failed to present evidence to show that the trial courts and the appellate court committed error in its assailed decision.

“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 the deny the instant petition,” part of the SC ruling said.

Celdran has asked the SC to reverse the 2015 ruling of the appellate court, which affirmed the Manila MTC and RTC’s decision convicting him of offending religious feelings under Article 133 of the Revised Penal Code.

Celdran has argued that his display of the words “Father Damaso” in his banner inside the cathedral is a political speech and was his way of conveying to the priests inside that he strongly disagreed with their stand on the RH Law. SOURCE: SC affirms guilty verdict vs. Carlos Celdran over 'Damaso' act; By Christopher Lloyd Caliwan; August 7, 2018, 10:36 am;