You can’t save Carlos Celdran by simply whining about an ‘archaic’ law

Arguing that Carlos Celdran and “most Filipinos” may have been unaware that Article 133 of the Revised Penal Code (RPC) existed is like arguing that someone who grabbed lunch money off a scrawny kid in the schoolyard not knowing said scrawny kid had a big stick within reach did not deserve a whack in the head.

carlos_celdran_damasoTruly ethical (and smart) people don’t decide to not commit a crime on the basis of how severe the punishment is. Regardless of one’s knowledge of the law, one would’ve intuitively known that barging into a Catholic church and waving a placard with the word “Damaso” written on it is simply wrong and disrespectful.

At the end of the day the law is the law. As stated in Article 133, “arresto mayor in its maximum period to prision correccional in its minimum period shall be imposed” for anyone found guilty of this offense. You argue severity of penalty with a judge within that stipulated range. Beyond that range it is an issue you lobby for in Congress to amend the law (or repeal it). So the degree to which you plead does-the-punishment-befit-the-crime? will determine to which branch of government you will need to put in the paperwork. You count on having good judges and good legislators respectively for the system to work. If Philippine society can’t produce good judges and legislators, then you know where the issue lies. All roads lead to that issue.

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Perhaps, some would argue, the punishment does not befit the crime. Indeed, the Philippines in this regard could be described as some kind of Asian Russia where petty criminals are supposedly banished to the Gulag. Then again, maybe that’s not the case as the RPC has been described as a law that stood the test of time and has aged like a fine wine. Whichever assertion you subscribe to will not change the Law as it stands. There are procedures through which you need to slog through to change that simple reality. It’s called democratic governance. Institutions and process protect people from arbitrary or summary rule by individuals. You want the democracy? You got it — along with all that red tape.

Carlos Celdran’s Damaso stunt is not a step forward, but a step backward to the tired old heady days of street parliamentarianism and emo politics that were fads at the height of Filipinos’ addiction to extra-procedural and extra-institutional “social change” made romantic by Aquinoist rhetoric. It is quite ironic that those Chicken Littles flapping about inciting ocho-ocho outrage over Celdran’s conviction and making it out to be a “dangerous precedent” that will open a Pandora’s Box of “religious persecution of critics of the Catholic Church” are the very same people who are at the forefront of initiatives to “educate” voters presumably so that they vote for the right people to represent them in Congress.

Let us recall the whole point of voting the right people into Congress: it is to improve our chances of seeing laws that truly represent the common good’s interests getting passed in the future. If Article 133 is summarily deemed to be not a nice law by these “activists”, then the way to get that fixed is through existing procedures within an existing institution.

You can’t go around stomping your feet over being convicted for violating a law that you, right there and then, decide shouldn’t have existed. The law is there whether or not you think it shouldn’t have been. And you broke it.

Deal with it. Like a man.

18 Replies to “You can’t save Carlos Celdran by simply whining about an ‘archaic’ law”

  1. I am not exactly a fan of any organized religion but this guy Celdran did something unlawfull pala. I remember a Celdran many years back who tried to gatecrush into a party of sales people gathered from all over the country somewhere south of luzon. Unfortunately for him, he didn’t get past security. Could he be the same guy?

  2. Save Carlos Celdran by simply whining? Who cares about Celdran? It’s all about separation of church and state, Celdran is a collateral damage. Celdran drew a thick line between CBCP, PCSO, Comelec, and the Constitution.
    Celdran must pay for the laws he violated, so does RCC(CBCP). No more SUV’s for birthday gifts.

  3. These people whining about celdran’s imprisonment are like the same people who are going warfreak on china only because of the death penalty of the pinoy drug mules in which they indeed broke it.

  4. What i find funny is now these filipinofreethinkers are now trying to look around the same penal code and try to use online media such as fb to see what case they could file against churches that ring theirs bells to signify a morning mass.

    And they say they found one and simply choose the high road and not sue to ‘show that they are different from the church’.

    Frankly speaking, if they think the church is in the wrong place, then they should be exploring zoning laws and land use guidelines. Again, they choose to bark up the wrong tree to try and make a ‘twisted’ point.

    They claim to be freethinkers with an emphasis on thinking, but i think they use limited faculties on this one if they cant comprehend why they are in the wrong and barking at the wrong tree. If they really think the church was favored bec of bias and twisting of the law, they should legally take action amd pursue remedies by appealing properly. If they just think the law is not applicable in what it perscribes as archaic punishment, lobby to have the law revised/changed.

    Arguing that celdran is the sacrificial lamb to have the law changed is not even the issue. He chose to act that way which basically means he put himself on the spot which put the law that applied on the limelight. Now, if they really dont agree with it, then legally do something about it and not just moan about it on facebook, twitter etc

    Honestly, what do they ‘think’ whining only will accomplish?


  5. I find a lot these whiners from (pardon the profanity) TANGINA THIS! FB page. From what I observed they supported two freethinkers: Mideo M. Cruz and Carlos Celdran.

    Cruz’s controversial “Kulo” exhibit on CCP years ago were done in a right place, only to be found out by bigots and storm the CCP that lead into the exhibit’s closure.

    On the other hand, Celdran simply walks inside a church having service flashing the “Damaso” placard.

    There is a huge difference from the two. Cruz’s exhibit was attacked within CCP grounds where someone can ‘freely’ express their ‘art’ in any form while Celdran waltzed inside the church disrupting the service.

    And comparing Celdran to Jose Rizal? I digress. Rizal would not even do such a thing. He has written and published some two books and were followed by then revolutionaries having their hearts kindled by the oppression of Spain. The Spaniards then came to Rizal because of that leading to his arrest.

    On the other hand, Celdran came inside the church and done his stunt. And that lead to his arrest.

    I smell “victim mentality” here. And it is clearly that the latter lacked the knowledge in the “Art of War”. 🙂

    1. If Celdran did what he did within the context of Philippine Islamic law, he would suffer the same consequences as what he got today. Criminal offenses such as those of against “religious feelings” fall under the arbitration of the secular Philippine courts.

    2. I think that if Celdran did what he did within the context of Philippine Islamic law, he would probably suffer the same consequences as what he got today. Criminal offenses such as those of against “religious feelings” as I understand them fall under the arbitration of the secular Philippine courts.

  6. Celdran obviously transgressed other people’s rights, and he obviously transgressed the law for that matter. If the thinks the law is outdated (I as well as many others do not think so) then he should move within the available legal means to have it REPEALED. Does he think he has the right to violate any law he THINKS is archaic? It is for the legislature to move for the repeal of laws, not for every Tom, Dick and Harry to violate with impunity and then cry and complain it is archaic when they are penalized.

  7. I understand one thing about Article 133, that it was a law that was trying to keep people in good behavior. Good behavior is certainly needed for a truly humane and fair society. In those days, why would you offend religious feelings if you were nothing but a troublemaker? Now if the Catholic Church may be worth criticizing now, it’s possible to do that by not being a troublemaker. That’s why such laws exist.

    Perhaps the Department of Justice could keep Art. 133 in its new criminal code draft, but in a new form. Or incorporated into Art. 132, but in a different wording.

  8. carlos deserves to be jailed. he broke the law. no one has the right to disrespect religion. that simple. about the “archaic law” in the revised penal code for amendment or repealing? that makes sense.

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