Why Carlos Celdran should go to jail for his 2010 Damaso stunt

First I presented the facts surrounding the Carlos Celdran ‘Damaso’ circus in my previous article. Evidently, facts alone don’t resonate loudly enough in Filipinos’ ears nor get processed effectively within their limited intellectual faculties. So I shall state my opinion about said facts a bit more explicitly here.

Consistency is the mother of credibility.
Consistency is the mother of credibility.
Carlos Celdran is entitled to express an opinion under that doctrine of “freedom of speech” his supporters keep invoking. But his right to do so is forum-dependent as commentor “jcc” pointed out

The case of Celdran must not be framed under the free-speech clause because in order to exercise it, you must have your own forum to vent your speech. You can use the public plaza for that. If you want to use a school auditorium, you must ask permission from the school first. If you want to use the pulpit or the church premises, you must ask the permission of the church first. Inside church premises, your speech that is anti-church cannot be tolerated. You were demanding an untramelled speech inside the premises that does not welcome it.

Put it in another scenario, Congress. Protesters there are allowed their free speech outside the premises. You cannot get inside the session hall and deliver your speech unless you are a member of congress itself.

The provision of the constitution is clear. “No law shall be passed abridging the freedom of speech.” It is an invocation directed against State actors. The Church is not an agency of the State. It is an independent group operating outside the framework of what the constitution considers state actor.

In short, your freedom to swing your fist ends where my nose begins. Though in that amusing metaphor and in this case of the Church versus Celdran, limits to said freedom are implied, there is no threat to “freedom of speech” that is proportionate to the loud whining we currently hear from the chattering classes today. True to the emo spirit, some of Celdran’s defenders point out how the “Catholic Bishop’s Conference of the Philippines too reserve the right to freedom of speech. They are after all, Filipinos themselves and have the right to speak.” But of course. The difference between our modern-day Damasos and Celdran is that our 21st Century Damasos exercise that right within their own premises (their Churches, their vassal private schools, and their colonial properties), and via their own channels (their own blogs, websites, radio stations, and television programs).

Celdran stepped into the Manila Cathedral and flashed a “Damaso” placard. Nice statement — one I happen to agree with. In fact I recall finding myself nodding my head a bit in bemusement back in 2010 when it broke the news. Indeed, as one Tweetizen asserted, Celdran’s Damaso stunt did a lot to raise the profile of the pro-RH Bill activist voice. I agree with that too.

But that does not change the simple fact that a law was violated in a clearly pre-meditated act. Some of us choose to express our views within the domain of what the Law allows. Celdran chose to do the same outside of it. He once accused moi of troll-like behaviour. Fair enough perhaps. I express myself in ways that annoy people and am as proud of that as any shock-jock is. Celdran did the same when he dressed as Jose Rizal and flashed “Damaso” in the Manila Cathedral in 2010 — proof that troll-like behaviour is not necessarily confined to online activity. The difference between witty trolls like moi and plain emo real-life trolls like Celdran is that witty guys like me do my trolling without violating other peoples’ property rights and impinging on people’s entitlement to practice their religion without unwarranted interruption. My audience comes to me. Celdran’s audience gets their door kicked down.

Whatever service that happened to be transpiring in the Manila Cathedral at the time (whether it was a Holy Mass or some sort of “ecumenical service” ek ek) is not relevant.

The only thing relevant is where the stunt was exhibited.

Celdran is a martyr indeed. He will go to jail to serve the cause for legal artificial contraception in the Philippines. He should do his time with his chin up, because he chose to risk being sentenced to that punishment by knowingly violating the law and then apologising for doing so. When you apologise for an offense, said apology implies a willingness to suffer the consequences associated with said offense. Celdran has two choices: (1) march into prison with dignity or (2) be dragged into the slammer costumed and kicking and screaming like all the other social media attention-junkies out there.

I suggest he goes for Option 1. That way he does a bit of justice to the smug look he flashes while posing in those handcuffs in the numerous publicity photos he’s been tweeting out since 2010.

Freedom of speech is not dead, nor will it die in the aftermath of Celdran’s imprisonment. It will thrive for as long as idiotic stunts are played by emo activists for witty people like moi to write about intelligently. The armchair on which I sit is quite comfy indeed. That’s what being at the top of the ideas food chain is all about.


Post Author: benign0

benign0 is the Webmaster of GetRealPhilippines.com.

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208 Comments on "Why Carlos Celdran should go to jail for his 2010 Damaso stunt"

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Mirror Force

Hear, hear.

Johnny Derp

Brace yourselves, the butthurt celdran fans are coming.
To be honest, i was really facepalming at what celdran did. Serves him right to get jailed for a stupid stunt like that.

Personally, it boggles the mind what precedent would have been set if this was condoned by the courts. Who is allowed to disrupt what process and where. I bet the same people who think Celdran should escape unscathed thought Kanye West was a boor for interupting Taylor Swift’s speech in some awards show a few years ago. I hope I am getting those interchangable celebrities correct. I think Mr.Celdran was protesting at the time (2010) the Church’s proposed civil disobedience. John Wooded told one of his players maybe Bill Walton, he was entitled to express his views as long as… Read more »

Flawlessly written. That help me understood more why Celdran deserves jail time.

Libertatem Munus

Agree, agree. Celdran is not the victim here, rather the recipient of a prison term for his Damaso performance. You reap what you sow.


Amen, benigs.

No, Carlos Celdran, freedom of speech is not under threat…

whiny, emo, pa-victim “activism” is.

Pidru pinduku

By this argument, Celdran would have been guilty of trespass. “Offending religious feelings” is to vague a law to be valid. That law does not even specify where the offense can be commited. If a religion were to say that cows are sacred, every person in the philippines who eats beef would have committed the crime of “offending religious feelings”

rey mendoza

IF I were Celdran, I’d go for incarceration with pride of having been martyred by the Catholic Church. The church near my home is equipped with loudspeakers, blasting the neighborhood with homilies irrespective of who agrees or disagrees. No one gives a rat’s ass because that’s an inviolable freedom of expression. Disagree at the cellular level with Benigno.


what about chapter 10 article 332 revise penal code that says you only have civil and not criminal liability if you steal from family or relatives? are you gonna defend that too because its “law” some laws should not be followed that includes the one supposedly broken by damaso


I agree with your whole point, benign0- the right to exercise a right ends where another’s right begins. from a purely academic viewpoint however, i think there’s a parallel (albeit tenuous) between this case to the argument in favor of decriminalization of libel, so i was expecting a defense along the lines of unconstitutionality of the particular penal provision he violated. imho, our laws are still in a quandary between the feudalistic laws of our forefathers and the pull towards modernization and contemporary thought.
cheers. 🙂

YCK PC Baclod

Very good topic sir Benign0. We should be always accountable on all of our actions. nice to be back here in these forum.. 🙂

The problem with the Damaso stunt was that it was an INSULT. Barging into a church and unfurling that banner was an insult. Protesters are not just protesting anymore; they are insulting, mocking people in as pronounced a way as they can find (a protest is very different from an insult). Why the focus on insulting? Do they think it will bring better attention to their cause? I think not. In my upbringing, habitual insulting means a lack of civility and credibility on the part of insulter. It means that the person can’t think of anything else sensible or helpful… Read more »
Domingo Arong
Benign0 Here’s the copy of the Celdran decision penned by “Pairing Judge” Juan O. Bermejo, Jr.: http://www.scribd.com/doc/122655771/Facebook-com-OscarFranklinTan-Decision-convicting-Carlos-Celdran-2013 Note that there were four prosecution witnesses: Teresita Azuring, Marcelina Cacal, Angelito Cacal and Fr. Oscar Alunday, SVD; and two for the defense: Ria Regina S. Limjap and Atty. Christian Monsod. And take note too of the testimony of one of the witnesses appearing in page 06 that I am quoting below: “Mr. Cornejo, Vice President of GMA-7, stood and grabbed accused [Celdran] from the center and he followed him from behind. Accused even tried to go back as he was being pacificed,… Read more »

Tweetizen? Really?


This is well thought out and succinctly articulates what I have in mind–that Celdran’s jail time has nothing to do with belittling freedom of speech. Thank you very much!

“Nothing is more destructive of respect for the government and the law of the land than passing laws which cannot be enforced.” – Albert Einstein Section Four. — Crimes against religious worship Art. 132. Interruption of religious worship. — The penalty of prision correccional in its minimum period shall be imposed upon any public officer or employee who shall prevent or disturb the ceremonies or manifestations of any religion. If the crime shall have been committed with violence or threats, the penalty shall be prision correccional in its medium and maximum periods.chanrobles virtual law library Art. 133. Offending the religious… Read more »
Catholic Man

You reap what you saw Mr. Celdran! and dont use the issue of freedom of speech.. the law clearly state that you violated article # 133 of the revised penal code.

I hope you learn your lesson this time.


A colleague from my Facebook network posted this status update message a while ago:

“I find the likes of Pope Alexander VI, his son Cesare Borgia and Machiavelli amusing not because I approve their vile actions but because they are such magnificent manipulative bastards and their refuge on sheer badass audacity is worthy of notability. Same goes for Celdran. His actions may be objectionable in the eyes of law, but sometimes you need to be crazy enough to upset the status quo and drive home a point.”

I don’t even know how to react to that, wahaha.


Not even Carlos Celdran is above the law. Who does he think he is – Noynoy “exempt me” Aquino????

Man up, Mr. Celdran!

I would argue not that Celdran didn’t deserve punishment, but that the punishment is too severe for such a broadly defined law (that might even contradict Section 4 and 5 of the Constitution, whatever this article says) I’m frankly disappointed. The article’s implication is that this punishment DOES befit the crime, without touching on the need to revise such a stupid law. A hefty fine would have been sufficient. One year jailtime? Seriously? Are we the Asian Russia now? Arrogance is not a trait only allegedly ’emo’ activists possess. I would suggest armchair witticists have the same problems, and in… Read more »