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JAYE QUERUBIN

Article 133 of the Revised Penal Code punishes anyone who, in a place
devoted to religious worship or during the celebration of any religious worship or
during the celebration of any religious ceremony, shall perform acts notoriously
offensive to the feelings of the faithful. To be able to commit such crime it must
meet the following elements of, first, the acts complained of were performed in a
place devoted to religious worship or during the celebration of a religious ceremony
and second, if the said act is notoriously offensive to the feelings of the faithful.

Carlos Celdran raised a plackard which says “Damaso” & uttered the words
“Stop involving yourselves in politics!” in front of the Altar at the Manila Cathedral.

The question at hand is, was there a crime committed?

To be guilty of a crime, one must be able to meet the elements leading to


such offense. First element was clearly met by the very act of Celdran inside the
Manila Cathedral. But now, this leaves us to the second element which is “perform
acts notoriously offensive to the feelings of the faithful”. Now, to be able to look at
such and appreciate if a crime has been committed, it must be remembered that
the “being offended” must be from the point of view of the ones the offense is
directed to, thus in this case these are the people inside the Manila Cathedral at the
time the act was committed.

To be able to understand what “notoriously offensive” could in the point of


view of the ones in the said church, I believe that history would show how important
and sacred a celebration of mass or Ecumenical Prayer is and how important it is to
respect the premises of the church. The church has always been there through
history, and as a Catholic country, we have incorporated rules and laws protecting
the church. There had been customs being followed inside the church and even our
laws recognize such. As described by Atty. Jose Sison, For Catholics “the Mass is the
center of the Church. Nothing can compare to the Mass because it is the renewal of
the Sacrifice on the Cross where Christ offers Himself up for all humanity. It is the
moment when heaven and earth unite”. Considering that, disrupting the Mass and
causing such disrespect inside the Church is therefore the most offensive act
against the feelings of the faithful. Basically people who believe in God whether
Christians, Buddhists, Muslims or any other faith would certainly feel offended if
anyone disrupts the very sacred rite or liturgy that is at the center of their faith, the
celebration of God’s presence in their midst.

In People VS Baes, it was said that “The motion raises a question of law, not
one of fact” and such would mean that the law was made to protect eh church from
any offensive act. The existing jurisprudence also mentioned that “whether or of the
act complained of is offensive to the religious feelings of the Catholics, is a question
of fact which must be judged only according to the feelings of the Catholics and not
those of other faithful ones, for it is possible that certain acts may offend the
feelings of those who profess a certain religion, while not otherwise offensive to the
feelings of those professing another faith”, in this case, the acts committed were
obviously disrespectful to the rights of those who were in the Church to worship
freely and peacefully.

It must be remembered that it is not the advocacy but rather the method and
ways that Celdran delivered his message, that which is being punished. No matter
what the intent was, in really did not matter because at the end, such resulted to a
penal offense. Yes, the constitutions guarantees freedom of speech, but at the
same time it must be remembered that not only a person’s freedom of speech is
being protected by the constitution, but rather the Constitution also protects
freedom of religion and of course the rights of each and every single individual to
worship according to their religious belief in PEACE. Therefore, the act was
not at all justifiable and if one would ask if such is notoriously offensive, the gauge
would definitely be the ones present inside the Cathedral in consideration to how
important and scared the Church premises are.