Lagman seeks repeal of âarchaicâ crime of offending religious feelings
In this file photo dated Sept. 30, 2010, tour guide Carlos Celdran holds a protest at the Manila Cathedral during a mass attended by Catholic Church officials.
The STAR/Edd Gumban, File
Lagman seeks repeal of ‘archaic’ crime of offending religious feelings
Gaea Katreena Cabico ( - October 21, 2019 - 2:54pm

MANILA, Philippines — Rep. Edcel Lagman (Albay) has filed a bill seeking to decriminalize the act of offending religious feelings—a crime he called an “odious remnant of the Dark Ages.”

Lagman filed on Monday House Bill 5170, which would repeal Article 133 of the Revised Penal Code.

Under Article 133, the penalty of arresto mayor in its maximum period (six months of imprisonment) to prision correccional in its minimum period (six years of imprisonment) shall be imposed upon anyone who, in a place devoted to religious worship or during religious ceremonies shall perform acts notoriously offensive to the feelings of the faithful.

The lawmaker called Article 133 of the Revised Penal Code “archaic” and “offensive to the freedom of expression.”

“[Article 133] is utterly subjective and leaves to the undue discretion of the court to divine the inculpatory element of ‘wounded religious feelings.’ It is an amorphous offense and fails to set any objective standards on the gravamen of the crime,” Lagman said.

If passed into law, the proposed legislation will have a retroactive effect.

Honoring Celdran

Lagman said he made the proposal in memory of the late cultural activist Carlos Celdran, who was found guilty of offending religious for staging a protest at the Manila Cathedral over the Catholic Church’s opposition to the Reproductive Health bill.

Celdran and Lagman are RH advocates, with the latter as one of the authors of the bill that later became the Responsible Parenthood and Reproductive Health Act of 2012.

In September 2010, Celdran, dressed as Jose Rizal, walked toward the main altar of the Manila Cathedral where an ecumenical service was being held and raised a placard with the name “Damaso.”

“Damaso” is a reference to the villainous friar Padre Damaso in Rizal’s classic novel “Noli Me Tangere,” a character regarded as a symbol of oppression and corruption by the church during Spanish colonization.

A Manila court found Celdran guilty of blasphemy in 2013. Last year, the Supreme Court upheld Celdran’s conviction for offending religious feelings.

Celdran died of unspecified natural causes on October 8. He was 46.

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