Activist Carlos Celdran Sentenced to 1 Year Behind Bars for 'Damaso' Act, CA affirms

"The right to free speech does not guarantee an unbridled license to say whatever one may wish..." This was the Manila Regional Trial Court’s 2013 decision over the activist's "Padre Damaso" act inside Manila Cathedral in 2010. “Padre Damaso” was the infamous character, the antagonist priest, in Jose Rizal’s “Noli Me Tangere.” Such act has made him to offend religious feelings under Article 133 of the Philippines' Revised Penal Code. The Court of Appeals has affirmed MTC's decision.

John Charles Edward "Carlos" Pamintuan Celdran, a Filipino tour guide, cultural activist, and performing artist, is known for advocating the reproductive health law in the Philippines. The church, however, strongly opposed the Reproductive Health Bill or RH bill when introduced and passed in the country in 2010. "It seeks to promote on a national level access to information and the availability of natural and artificial contraception. It seeks to empower couples in responsible family planning through education and access to legal and medically safe birth control."

Despite the strong opposition by the Catholic church, who believes that the said bill will destroy family lives, the Chambers of Congress passed on the third and final reading of the RH Bill on 17 December 2012 13 senators and 133 Congressmen voted in favor of the bill. It is now called the "Responsible Parenthood and Reproductive Health Act of 2012"or informally known as the Reproductive Health Law or RH Law in the Philippines.

Photo from his Facebook

Yet, the passing of the bill in 2012 does not abdicate Carlos from conviction as the Court of Appeals affirmed the MTC's decision. Instead, he will be incarcerated for more than 1 year.

The penalty will be served for shouting inside the church while the mass was celebrated in 2010. He was simply calling for the Church to stop meddling with government affairs while holding a “Damaso” sign referring to “Padre Damaso.