Article 133 Revised Penal Code #DAMASO


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I. Introduction
II. Article 133 as a crime against the Fundamental Laws of the State
III. Religious Freedom
    A. Provision(s) on the religious clauses
    B. Provision(s) on the Separation of Church and State
    C. Jurisprudence
IV. Discussion on Article 133 RPC
    A. Article 133, Act 3815 [1930]: Offending the religious feelings (Ofensa a los sentimientos religiosos)
    B. Is Article 133 RPC still operative?
        1. The end of theocracy at the advent of American colonization
        2. Origin of Article 133 RPC
            a. El Código Penal de 1870 (Spain)
            b. Penal Code of 1884 (Philippine Islands)
        3. Articles 233 and 571 of the Penal Code of 1884 in relation to the 1930 Revised Penal Code
        4. Reenactment of previously inoperative provisions of the Penal Code of 1884, through Articles 131 and 132 RPC
    C. Should “Crimes against religious worship” even be in Philippine penal statutes?
    D. Could Freedom of Speech be claimed as a defense for violation of a subsisting penal provision?
    E. Has Article 133 been challenged for its constitutionality?
    F. Are the elements of Article 133, without doubt, present?
        1. Elements of Article 133 RPC
            a. Acts complained of were performed in a place devoted to religious worship or during the celebration of any religious ceremony
                i. Place devoted to religious worship
                ii. During the celebration of any religious ceremony
                iii. Alternative scenarios in the clauses of the first element
            b. Act was notoriously offensive to the religious feelings of the faithful
                i. Notoriously offensive
                ii. Religious feelings of the faithful
    G. Act punishable under Article 133 RPC or under some other RPC provision?
        1. Acts not within purview of Article 133 RPC
        2. Was the act really punishable under Article 133 RPC?
V. Miscellaneous Issues
    A. Priests and Article 133 RPC
    B. Church interference on political matters
    C. Personal matters


I. Introduction

I cannot speak for or against the decision of the Metropolitan Trial Court of Manila [1] relating to the case of Carlos Celdran, who was found guilty of offending religious feeling under Article 133 of the Revised Penal Code (RPC), or Act 3815 [1930], on 28 January 2013, as it is an ongoing case. [2] [3] I can only look into legal precepts which may be relevant in appreciating the controversy. [4], and maybe stray once in a while on political matters incidental to the controversy.

II. Article 133 as a crime against the Fundamental Laws of the State

Article 133 RPC is under Section Four (Crimes against religious worship) of Title II (Crimes against the Fundamental Laws of the State) of the Revised Penal Code.

Title II is deemed to be crimes against the fundamental laws of the State inasmuch as the crimes it encompasses tend to violate Constitutional guarantees. The right against unlawful arrest are somehow covered by Articles 124 to 126 (Arbitrary detention, Delay in the delivery of detained persons to the proper judicial authorities, and Delaying release), the right against unreasonable search and seizure under Articles 128 to 130 (Violation of domicile, Search warrants maliciously obtained and abuse in the service of those legally obtained, and Searching domicile without witnesses), the liberty of abode under Article 127 (Expulsion), Freedom of assembly under Article 131 (Prohibition, interruption and dissolution of peaceful meetings), and Freedom of religion under Articles 132 and 133 (Interruption of religious worship, and Offending the religious feelings).

Parenthetically, there are other guarantees under the Bill of Rights [5] which are not covered by provisions under the Revised Penal Code under Title II. Further, all crimes under Title II, except for Article 133, are directed on the culpability of public officers or employees. Article 133 is directed against any person who shall commit the same.

III. Religious Freedom

Articles 132 and 133 RPC could be argued to have been provided in pursuance of the unbridled exercise of one’s religious freedom. Section 5, Article III of the 1987 Constitution provides:

No law shall be made respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof. The free exercise and enjoyment of religious profession and worship, without discrimination or preference, shall forever be allowed. No religious test shall be required for the exercise of civil or political rights.

A. Provision(s) on the religious clauses

The provision on freedom of religion in the Philippine Constitution emanated from the first clause of the First amendment of the United States Constitution, which provided that “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; xxx”

When the then US President William McKinley provided his instructions in 1900 to the Philippine Commission, he mandated, in the tenth clause of the sixteenth paragraph of such instructions “that no law shall be made respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof, and that the free exercise and enjoyment of religious profession and worship without discrimination or preference shall forever be allowed” and in the fifth and sixth clauses of the eighteenth paragraph of such instructions that “that no form of religion and no minister of religion shall be forced upon any community or upon any citizen of the islands; that upon the other hand no minister of religion shall be interfered with or molested in following his calling.”

The US Congress subsequently enacted the Philippine Organic Act of 1902, wherein freedom of religion — similar to the wordings in the 10th clause of the 16th paragraph of the McKinley’s Instructions — is enscribed in the fourteenth paragraph of Section 5 thereof.

The Philippine Autonomy Act of 1916 adopted such provision in the first sentence of the fourteenth paragraph of Section 3 thereof, and added the clause “and no religious test shall be required for the exercise of civil or political rights.” Such clause is similar to the last clause of the third or last paragraph of Article VI of the United States Constitution, which provided that “no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States.”

Except for style changes, the 1916 provision is almost verbatim to those found under Section 1(7), Article III of the 1935 Constitution; Section 8, Article IV of the 1973 Constitution; and Section 5, Article III of the 1987 Constitution. The current provision states:

Section 5. No law shall be made respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof. The free exercise and enjoyment of religious profession and worship, without discrimination or preference, shall forever be allowed. No religious test shall be required for the exercise of civil or political rights.

B. Provision(s) on the Separation of Church and State

The last clause of the eighteenth paragraph of McKinley’s Instructions provided “that the separation between state and church shall be real, entire, and absolute.”

There is nothing as explicitly provided under the previous organic laws (1902 Philippine Organic Act or 1916 Philippine Autonomy Act), nor in the 1935 Constitution — although the separation can be perceived impliedly from other Constitutional provisions — until the promulgation of the 1973 Constitution.

Section 15, Article XV of the 1973 Constitution, and subsequently, Section 6, Article II of the 1987 Constitution provide:

Section 6. The separation of the church and the State shall be inviolable.

C. Jurisprudence

The case of Estrada vs. Escritor — AM P-02-1651, 4 August 2003 Decision [6] and 22 June 2006 Resolution; [7] En Banc, Puno [J] — provides for an extensive discussion on the Freedom of Religion viz Separation of Church and State. The introductory discussions in the case may be useful to understand some facets of the controversy — such as that of the nature of the religious clauses, the different approaches in determining constitutionality of government acts, the tests used, and even the apparent inconsistencies of various precedents, among others — notwithstanding that the facts of the case itself may not be relevant to the present controversy inasmuch as such are directed towards the distinction between public and secular morality, on one hand, and religious morality, on the other.

Parathetically, thus, the case provided that when Escritor “entered the judiciary in 1999, she was already a widow, her husband having died in 1998. She admitted that she has been living with Quilapio without the benefit of marriage for twenty years and that they have a son. But as a member of the religious sect known as the Jehovah’s Witnesses and the Watch Tower and Bible Tract Society, their conjugal arrangement is in conformity with their religious beliefs. In fact, after ten years of living together, she executed a ‘Declaration of Pledging Faithfulness’… By invoking the religious beliefs, practices and moral standards of her congregation, in asserting that her conjugal arrangement does not constitute disgraceful and immoral conduct for which she should be held administratively liable.” [8] The Court applied the Benevolent Neutrality approach and the Compelling State Interest test in the case. The Court thereafter found that “in this particular case and under these distinct circumstances, respondent Escritor’s conjugal arrangement cannot be penalized as she has made out a case for exemption from the law based on her fundamental right to freedom of religion. The Court recognizes that state interests must be upheld in order that freedoms – including religious freedom – may be enjoyed. In the area of religious exercise as a preferred freedom, however, man stands accountable to an authority higher than the state, and so the state interest sought to be upheld must be so compelling that its violation will erode the very fabric of the state that will also protect the freedom. In the absence of a showing that such state interest exists, man must be allowed to subscribe to the Infinite.” [9] The Court dismissed the administrative case against Escritor.

To the end of understanding jurisprudence relevant to the freedom of religion, it would be better to read Estrada vs. Escritor, AM P-02-1651, 22 June 2006 Resolution, En Banc, Puno [J], or Estrada vs. Escritor, AM P-02-1651, 4 August 2003, En Banc, Puno [J].

IV.Discussion on Article 133 RPC

A. Article 133, Act 3815 [1930]: Offending the religious feelings (Ofensa a los sentimientos religiosos)

Article 133 RPC provides:

Offending the religious feelings. — The penalty of arresto mayor in its maximum period to prision correccional in its minimum period shall be imposed upon anyone who, in a place devoted to religious worship or during the celebration of any religious ceremony, shall perform acts notoriously offensive to the feelings of the faithful.

B. Is Article 133 RPC still operative?

1. The end of theocracy at the advent of American colonization

In Estrada vs. Escritor, AM P-02-1651, 4 August 2003, En Banc, Puno [J]: [10]

Before our country fell under American rule, the blanket of Catholicism covered the archipelago. There was a union of church and state and Catholicism was the state religion under the Spanish Constitution of 1876. Civil authorities exercised religious functions and the friars exercised civil powers. (Martinez, H., “The High and Impregnable Wall of Separation Between Church and State”, Philippine Law Journal (1962), vol. 37(5), p. 748, 766.) Catholics alone enjoyed the right of engaging in public ceremonies of worship. (Article II.) Although the Spanish Constitution itself was not extended to the Philippines, Catholicism was also the established church in our country under the Spanish rule. Catholicism was in fact protected by the Spanish Penal Code of 1884 which was in effect in the Philippines. Some of the offenses in chapter six of the Penal Code entitled “Crimes against Religion and Worship” referred to crimes against the state religion. (Bernas, J., The 1987 Constitution of the Republic of the Philippines: A Commentary (1995), p. 284.) The coming of the Americans to our country, however, changed this state-church scheme for with the advent of this regime, the unique American experiment of “separation of church and state” was transported to Philippine soil.

2. Origin of Article 133 RPC

a. El Código Penal de 1870 (Spain)

In People vs. Nosce, GR L-41757, 13 November 1934; En Banc, Avancena [CJ], [11] [12] the majority opinion declared that [t]his article is taken from article 241 of the Spanish Penal Code [1870] [13] which reads as follows:

The penalty of arresto mayor in its minimum and medium periods shall be imposed upon anyone who, in a religious place shall scandalously perform acts not included in the preceding articles, which shall offend the religious feelings of the people present.

b. Penal Code of 1884 (Philippine Islands)

Nevertheless, as to the Penal Code applicable in the Philippines when the Philippines was placed under American control, the Penal Code of 1884 [14] was the one enforced in the Philippines prior to the promulgation of Act 3815 in 1930.

As to continuing applicability of the Penal Code of 1884, considering the promulgation of the 1902 Philippine Organic Act by the United States Congress, subsequent to the establishment of the civil government in the Philippines by the Americans, Section 88 of the 1902 Philippine Organic Act provided that “That all Acts and parts of Acts inconsistent with this Act are hereby repealed.” As to the provisions under Articles 236 to 241 of the Penal Code, the Court held in United States vs. Balcorta, GR 8722, 10 September 1913, En Banc, Trent [J] [15] that:

The twenty-first article of the Spanish constitution of 1869 provided for a state religion, but also guaranteed the privilege of freely practicing, both in public and private, the forms and ceremonies of other sects, subject only to the restrictions imposed by general law and morality. Under this constitution of Penal Code of Spain, now in effect, was promulgated in 1870. As a consequence of the removal of all restrictions upon the exercise of religious beliefs, the Penal Code of Spain, enacted in 1870, in its chapter on crimes against religion, is wholly impersonal. In none of its articles (Nos. 236 to 241) is any particular religion mentioned, but offense against religion, as such, are defined and penalized. The heading of the chapter is “Crimes relative to the free exercise of religion (los cultos).”

The constitution of 1876, in Spain, which is still in force, after providing for a state religion, guaranteed that no one in Spanish territory would be molested for his religious opinions, nor for observing the forms of his faith, provided due respect were shown for Christian morals. By this same article, however, only the followers of the state religion could engage in public ceremonies or other manifestations. It will be noted that this article materially modified article 21 of the former constitution. While everyone could still worship God in his own manner, it was no longer permissible for cults other than the state religion to demonstrate their religious beliefs in public.

It was under this constitution that the Penal Code for the Philippine Islands was promulgated in 1884. As a consequence its provisions are considerably different from those of the Spanish Penal Code. Of the eight articles defining and penalizing “Crimes against religion and worship” (which is the title of the chapter), six refer specially and solely to crimes against the state religion. The only crime specifically defined against religious other than that of the state is for disturbing, by means of violence, threats, etc., their ceremonies when conducted in cemeteries or other places were such ceremonies may be lawfully authorized. (Art. 225.)

The change of sovereignty and the enactment of the fourteenth paragraph of section 5 of the Philippine Bill caused the complete separation of church and state, and the abolition of all special privileges and all restrictions theretofore conferred or imposed upon any particular religious sect. All became equal in the eyes of the law, and those articles of the Penal Code defining special crimes against that denomination which, under the former sovereign, was the state religion, as well as article 225, defining a crime against all others than that religion, necessarily became inoperative. Only those articles of the Penal Code which refer to all religious equally and without distinction can now be considered as in effect. They appear to be two in number, viz, article 223 and 571.

Let us first examine article 223, from which, neither by the specific language used nor by implication, can it be inferred that nay particular religious doctrine was in the minds of the code makers. What was the object and purpose of this section? It will be remembered that at the time this article became law, all faiths not opposed to Christian morals were, under the constitution of Spain, tolerated. According to the terms of the constitution, everyone had the right to worship his Maker in his own manner; and as a corollary no one could be compelled to indorse a particular creed. Were it lawful to prevent the one or exact the other, the terms of the constitution would have become a dead letter. As is usual with constitutions, no penalty was attached to this article. It remained for the legislature in the course of its ordinary legislation to provide for its enforcement. In order to instil respect for this constitutional provision, it was necessary to provide a punishment for anyone who sought to interfere with the religious beliefs of his fellow citizens. A glance at the other articles of the Penal Code in the chapter we are discussing shows that none of the crimes defined and punished therein would respond to a state of facts where both the will and conscience of a human being were being tampered with upon the subject of religion. The provisions of article 223 were relied upon to prevent such practices. The article says that “the penalty . . . shall be imposed upon any person who . . . shall force some other person to perform an act of worship . . .” In other words, any attempt, by coercive methods, to induce a person to worship God in a manner different from or to an extent greater than that person desired, constituted an abridgment of his constitutional right to believe or disbelieve, to regard or disregard the outer forms of a sect, even though he were a member of that sect. Whatever may have been the inducement for the passage of this article of the code, certainly it is in the closest harmony with the principles of government of the present sovereign, one of which is the greatest freedom of thought and speech consistent with public order upon religious matters.

The concluding portion of the article is, “or prevent him from performing such act.” History has perhaps demonstrated that it is a more common form of interference with freedom of religious thought to prevent a person from worshiping the Supreme Being according to the dictates of his own conscience than it is to force him to go through the forms of a religious ceremony in which he does not believe; but whether the one method or the other is adopted, it remains interference with religious freedom, which is incompatible with tolerance of all creeds as provided for in the Spanish constitution. To prevent a person from performing acts of devotion which he desires to perform for the sole reason that this creed does not meet with the approval of him who prevents them is as much as blow aimed at that constitutional right to religious as is the first method of requiring a person to perform acts of devotion against his will or conscience. Thus far the clause extends. But does it also extend to acts which, while preventing a person from performing an act of devotion, are not prompted by religious intolerance but from some other motive? It must be remembered that the great underlying purpose of this article is to prevent and punish religious intolerance. There is no reason for presuming that the code makers had in view mere disturbances of religious worship, since these offenses are provided for in other articles of the same chapter. Even less is it to be presumed that they had in mind offenses which, while perhaps seriously disturbing or preventing (for the time) religious services, were committed with some other object in view. We are of the opinion that an essential element of the crime defined and penalized under this article is the intent of the guilty person to coercively the religious beliefs of another person.

The offense defined and punished by article 571, paragraph 1, of the Penal Code falls under the classification of “Misdemeanors against the public order.” Due to the fact that all the articles in section 3, chapter 2, of book 2 of the code, with the exception of article 223 have become inoperative, all offenses against religious cults which do not amount to an attempt to control the conscience of persons must now fall within the provisions of this article. While the punishment therein provided may be, in some instances, not sufficient, we are of the opinion that, it together with those provided for “Threats and coercion,” will serve as a sufficient deterrent, and instil a wholesome respect for the decorum and dignity of an assemblage gathered for religious devotion. We find it much easier to arrive at this conclusion after comparing this penalty with those provided in the jurisdiction of that country from whence came the clause of the Philippine Bill which insures to all religious orders in this country equal protection. Mere disturbances of religious worship in the United States are generally classified as misdemeanors only. The increased severity of the punishments affixed to such penalties under the Penal Code is doubtless due to the long religious training of the nation which enacted the law and its recognition of a particular faith as a state religion.

3. Articles 233 and 571 of the Penal Code of 1884 in relation to the 1930 Revised Penal Code

Articles 223 and 571 of the Penal Code of 1884 remained operative until the promulgation of Act 3815 or Revised Penal Code in 1930, pursuant to the first paragraph of Article 677 thereof. [16]

Article 223 of the Penal Code of 1884 provided:

Article 223. He who by means of menaces, violence, or other lawless coercion shall force any person to perform acts of worship, or prevent him from performing them, shall incur the penalty of prision correccional in its medium and maximum degrees and a fine of from 625 to 6,250 pesetas.

Article 223 of the Penal Code of 1884 was not reproduced under the Title on Crimes against the Fundamental Laws of the State of the Revised Penal Code. Nevertheless, Article 223 is within the context of Article 286 RPC (under Title IX [Crimes against Personal Liberty and Security], Chapter II [Crimes against Security], Section III [Threats and coercion]), to wit:

Article 286. Grave coercions. — The penalty of arresto mayor and a fine not exceeding 500 pesos shall be imposed upon any person who, without authority of law, shall, by means of violence, prevent another from doing something not prohibited by law, or compel him to do something against his will, whether it be right or wrong.

If the coercion be committed for the purpose of compelling another to perform any religious act or to prevent him from so doing, the penalty next higher in degree shall be imposed.

On the other hand, Article 571(1) of the Penal Code of 1884 provided:

Article 571. The following shall be punished with the penalty of arrest of from one to ten days, and a fine of from 15 to 125 pesetas:

1. Those who shall disturb any act of a religious character in any manner not foreseen in Section III, Chapter II, Title II of Book II of this code.

xxx

Article 571(1) of the Penal Code of 1884 provides a catch provision for acts not falling under under Book II [Crimes and their Penalties], Title II [Crimes Against the Fundamental Laws of the State], Chapter II (Crimes Committed on the Occasion of Individual Rights Guaranteed by the Constitution], Section III [Crimes in connection with religion and worship] . A similar context is provided under the second clause of the first paragraph of Article 153 of the Revised Penal Code [under the chapter “Public disorders”]. Article 153 RPC provides:

Article 153. Tumults and other disturbance of public orders; Tumultuous disturbance or interruption liable to cause disturbance. — The penalty of arresto mayor in its medium period to prision correccional in its minimum period and a fine not exceeding 1,000 pesos shall be imposed upon any person who shall cause any serious disturbance in a public place, office, or establishment, or shall interrupt or disturb public performances, functions or gatherings, or peaceful meetings, if the act is not included in the provisions of Articles 131 and 132.

The penalty next higher in degree shall be imposed upon persons causing any disturbance or interruption of a tumultuous character.

The disturbance or interruption shall be deemed to be tumultuous if caused by more than three persons who are armed or provided with means of violence.

The penalty of arresto mayor shall be imposed upon any person who in any meeting, association, or public place, shall make any outcry tending to incite rebellion or sedition or in such place shall display placards or emblems which provoke a disturbance of the public order.

The penalty of arresto menor and a fine not to exceed P200 pesos shall be imposed upon these persons who in violation of the provisions contained in the last clause of Article 85, shall bury with pomp the body of a person who has been legally executed.

4. Reenactment of previously inoperative provisions of the Penal Code of 1884, through Articles 131 and 132 RPC

Articles 219, 224 and 225 of the Penal Code of 1884 provided:

Article 219. Those who by violence, disorderly conduct, threats, or tumults prevent, interrupt, or disturb the functions, acts, ceremonies, or manifestations of the religion of the State shall be punished with the penalty of prision correccional and a fine of from 65 to 650 pesetas, if the crime were committed in churches, chapels, or places devoted; and with that of arresto mayor to prision correccional in its minimum degree, and a fine of from 50 to 500 pesetas should the offense be committed in any other place.

Article 224. Those who, by employing the means mentioned in article 219, shall prevent or disturb the worship and the rites of the Catholic religion within the precincts of the cemeteries, shall be punished with the penalty of arresto mayor.

Article 225. The penalty of arresto mayor in its minimum degree shall be incurred by those who, making use of the same means as those enumerated in article 219, shall prevent persons from performing the acts of worship of a religion which is not the Catholic one, within the cemeteries or other precincts authorized or which may be authorized hereafter.

Article 219, primarily, is somehow replicated under Article 132 RPC – albeit the limitation that the actor therein would be a public officer or employee, and not anyone; and that religion encompasses other denominations and sects, not through exception as against the then religion of the State – provides:

Article 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.

On the other hand, Article 133 RPC, to reiterate, provided:

Article 133. Offending the religious feelings. — The penalty of arresto mayor in its maximum period to prision correccional in its minimum period shall be imposed upon anyone who, in a place devoted to religious worship or during the celebration of any religious ceremony shall perform acts notoriously offensive to the feelings of the faithful.

To reiterate similarly, its origin is traced under Article 241 of the Spanish Penal Code of 1870, which provided:

Article 241. The penalty of arresto mayor in its minimum and medium periods shall be imposed upon anyone who, in a religious place shall scandalously perform acts not included in the preceding articles, which shall offend the religious feelings of the people present.

Within the context of Justice Laurel’s dissent in People vs. Baes as to what constitutes acts notoriously offensive to the religious feelings of the faithful, in reiteration, to wit:

[A]n act, in order to be considered as notoriously offensive to the religious feelings, must be one directed against religious practice or dogma or ritual for the purpose of ridicule; the offender, for instance, mocks, scoffs at or attempts to damage an object of religious veneration; it must be abusive, insulting and obnoxious. (Viada, Comentarios al Codigo Penal, 707, 708; vide also Pacheco, Codigo Penal, p. 359).

the then inoperative Articles 220 to 222 of the Penal Code of 1884 would illustrate the same. Articles 220, 221 and 222 of the Penal Code of 1884 provided:

Article 220. He who with the intention of offending the Catholic religion shall trample, cast on the ground, or in any other manner profane the sacred elements of the Eucharist, shall be punished with the penalty of prision mayor.

Article 221. Those who in offense of the State religion shall trample, destroy, break, or profane sacred objects devoted to worship; within churches or without them, shall incur the penalty of prision correccional.

Article 222. He who with deliberate intention ridicules the Catholic religion by word or writing, publicly contemning its dogmas, rites, or ceremonies, shall be punished with the penalty of arresto mayor to prision correccional in its minimum degree, if the deed should have occurred in churches or on the occasion of acts of worship, and with that of arresto mayor if the crime should have been committed in other places and not on the occasion of such acts of worship.

Parenthetically, the second condition in Article 222 (hence, “He who with deliberate intention ridicules the Catholic religion by word or writing, publicly contemning its dogmas, rites, or ceremonies, shall be punished … with that of arresto mayor if the crime should have been committed in other places and not on the occasion of such acts of worship.”) seems to be the subject of Article 201 (under Title VI [Crimes against Public Morals], Chapter II [Offenses Against Decency and Good Customs]), to wit:

Article 201. Immoral doctrines, obscene publications and exhibitions and indecent shows. — The penalty of prision mayor or a fine ranging from six thousand to twelve thousand pesos, or both such imprisonment and fine, shall be imposed upon:

(1) Those who shall publicly expound or proclaim doctrines openly contrary to public morals;

(2) (a) the authors of obscene literature, published with their knowledge in any form; the editors publishing such literature; and the owners/operators of the establishment selling the same;

(b) Those who, in theaters, fairs, cinematographs or any other place, exhibit, indecent or immoral plays, scenes, acts or shows, whether live or in film, which are prescribed by virtue hereof, shall include those which (1) glorify criminals or condone crimes; (2) serve no other purpose but to satisfy the market for violence, lust or pornography; (3) offend any race or religion; (4) tend to abet traffic in and use of prohibited drugs; and (5) are contrary to law, public order, morals, and good customs, established policies, lawful orders, decrees and edicts;

(3) Those who shall sell, give away or exhibit films, prints, engravings, sculpture or literature which are offensive to morals.

Will the reenactment of similar provisions to those in Articles 219 to 227, and 517(1) of the Penal Code of 1884 be unconstitutional, inasmuch as these have been made inoperative under the 1902 Philippine Organic Act? On first view, it may apparently be so, but on a second view, it may not be necessarily so. To quote United States vs. Balcorta, GR 8722, 10 September 1913, En Banc, Trent [J] [17] once again:

The change of sovereignty and the enactment of the fourteenth paragraph of section 5 of the Philippine Bill caused the complete separation of church and state, and the abolition of all special privileges and all restrictions theretofore conferred or imposed upon any particular religious sect. All became equal in the eyes of the law, and those articles of the Penal Code defining special crimes against that denomination which, under the former sovereign, was the state religion, as well as article 225, defining a crime against all others than that religion, necessarily became inoperative. Only those articles of the Penal Code which refer to all religious equally and without distinction can now be considered as in effect. They appear to be two in number, viz, article 223 and 571.

Articles 219 to 222, and 224 to 227 of the Penal Code of 1884 were deemed inoperative because they infringed upon the non-establishment clause. On the other hand, Articles 223 and 571 of the Penal Code of 1884 were deemed in effect because they refer to all religions equally and without distinction. Considering that Articles 132 and 133 of the 1930 Revised Penal Code apply to all religions equally and without distinction, there would be no infirmity against the non-establishment clause when they were then promulgated in 1930.

Under the last premise, and relevant to the present controversy, there can be a different argumentation as against certain facets of the claim that Article 133 RPC is “‘archaic’ and a throwback to the Spanish colonial period when the native population in the Philippines was ruled by a theocracy and Church and State were one.” [18]

Section 2, Article XV of the 1935 Constitution, as originally promulgated, provided that “All laws of the Philippine Islands shall continue in force until the inauguration of the Commonwealth of the Philippines; thereafter, such laws shall remain operative, unless inconsistent with this Constitution, until amended, altered, modified, or repealed by the National Assembly, and all references in such laws to the Government or officials of the Philippine Islands shall be construed, in so far as applicable, to refer to the Government and corresponding officials under this Constitution.” When the 1935 Constitution was amended on 18 June 1940, except for the substitution of the words “National Assembly” with “Congress” the text was largely unchanged under Section 2, Article XVI of the amended 1935 Constitution.

On the other hand, Section 7, Article XVII of the 1973 Constitution provided that “All existing laws not inconsistent with this Constitution shall remain operative until amended, modified, or repealed by the National Assembly.” Lastly, Section 3, Article XVIII of the 1987 Constitution provides:

Section 3. All existing laws, decrees, executive orders, proclamations, letters of instructions, and other executive issuances not inconsistent with this Constitution shall remain operative until amended, repealed, or revoked.

Absent any showing of any Constitutional flaw or infirmity, it can be argued that the provisions remain operative even under 1987 Constitution, inasmuch as they are not inconsistent with the fundamental law.

C. Should “Crimes against religious worship” even be in Philippine penal statutes?

As to Crimes against Fundamental Laws of the State, the Spanish Penal Code of 1870 provided as section entitled “Offenses relating to the free exercise of religion” (Articles 236 to 241). On the other hand, the Penal Code of 1884 provided a section entitled “Crimes in connection with religion and worship” (Articles 219 to 227). Currently, the 1930 Revised Penal Code provided a section entitled “Crimes against religious worship” (Articles 132 and 133). Considering the historical connection between the three penal codes, although the current section has been limitedly phrased, it appears that it remains within the purview of the Constitutional guarantee for the free exercise of religion, as it was in the original.

The enactment of laws which protect religious freedom, especially in the free exercise thereof, is within the sovereign police power of the State. The underlying intent of promulgating such penal provisions is manifest: “In order to instil respect for this constitutional provision, it was necessary to provide a punishment for anyone who sought to interfere with the religious beliefs of his fellow citizens.” (United States vs. Balcorta, GR 8722, 10 September 1913, En Banc, Trent [J])

Whether repeals or amendments to these provisions should be pursued to remove or mitigate impressions that the State becomes an agent of the Church in the enforcement of such penal provisions, such as the relocation of Article 223 of the Penal Code of 1884 to Article 286 of the 1930 Revised Penal Code, is upon Congress to pursue.

D. Could Freedom of Speech be claimed as a defense for violation of a subsisting penal provision?

Under Criminal law premises, justifying circumstances, to avoid criminal liability, is provided under Article 11 of the Revised Penal Code. [19] On a Constitutional law premises, on the other hand, this is already well settled. In Primicias vs. Fugoso, GR L-1800, 27 January 1948, En Banc, Feria [J], [20] it was held that:

The right of freedom of speech and to peacefully assemble and petition the government for redress of grievances, are fundamental personal rights of the people recognized and guaranteed by the Constitutions of democratic countries. But it a settled principle growing out of the nature of well-ordered civil societies that the exercise of those rights is not absolute for it may be so regulated that it shall not be injurious to the equal enjoyment of others having equal rights, not injurious to the rights of the community or society. The power to regulate the exercise of such and other constitutional rights is termed the sovereign “police power” which is the power to prescribe regulations, to promote the health, morals, peace, education, good order or safety, and general welfare of the people. This sovereign police power is exercised by the government through its legislative branch by the enactment of laws regulating those and other constitutional and civil rights, and it may be delegated to political subdivisions, such as towns, municipalities, and cities authorizing their legislative bodies, called municipal and city councils to enact ordinances for the purpose.

Relevant to the present controversy, a legislator proferred that the act was justified due to the right of free speech. [21] Others reject the claim. [22] Were the circumstances under Article 11 (1), (2) or (3) RPC shown? Did the exercise of one’s Constitutional right injure the equal enjoyment of others having equal rights?

E. Has Article 133 been challenged for its constitutionality?

Available jurisprudence on Article 133 RPC appear to be very limited. Still, none of the cases found had questioned the constitutionality of Article 133 RPC.

People vs. Reyes, GR L-40577, 23 August 1934, En Banc, Hull [J]; [23] [24] and People vs. Nosce, GR L-41757, 13 November 1934, En Banc, Avancena [CJ] [25] were promulgated when the 1916 Philippine Autonomy Act was in place. On the other hand, People vs. Baes, GR L-46000, 25 May 1939, En Banc, Concepcion [J] [26] [27] was promulgated when the 1935 Constitution was effective.

The above cases directly looked into culpability under Article 133. Another case looked into the controversy of the act of burying a member of Jehovah’s witness in a Catholic cemetery, under the circumstances that there was no other cemetery in town and that the widower is mandated by law to bury the dead within two days or else face criminal liability under Article 1074 of the Revised Administrative Code. Thus, in Andal vs. People, GR L-29814, 28 March 1969, En Banc, Fernando [J], [28] a case for violation of Article 133 was filed, in which the accused was found guilty thereof. Upon appeal, the Court of Appeals therein modified the judgment finding the accused guilty of unjust vexation instead. When the case reached the Supreme Court, the Court ruled that:

Were it not for the facts as found by the Court of Appeals which we must respect, the specific question raised by petitioners in the motion for reconsideration cannot be accurately characterized as entirely devoid of merit. There being a legal duty cast on the survivor to bury the remains of the deceased within a definite period and there being only one cemetery, it could be asserted with some degree of plausibility that the performance of a legal duty could not be the basis of a criminal prosecution.

With the facts being clear, however, that petitioners in effect took the law in their own hands by employing force, their claim to be included within the mantle of protection it affords cannot be viewed with sympathy. The rule of law would be meaningless, if any and every effort coming from whatever quarter even under the stress of provocation, in defiance of legal norms, by the employment of force, except perhaps in some such legitimate instance as self-defense, would not be considered reprehensible. Under the above circumstances, no judicial relief could be afforded petitioners.

Other cases within such period provided for passing mention of Article 133, such as (1) Baes vs. Judge of First Instance of Laguna, GR L-45780, 29 December 1937, En Banc, Villa-Real [J], [29] (which preceded and related to the People vs. Baes case above) which involved a petition for a writ of mandamus for the court to give due course to an appeal on the ground that the act imputed to the accused does not constitute the crime charged; (2) The Assistant Provincial Fiscal of Bataan vs. Dollete, GR L-12196, 28 May 1958, En Banc, Montemayor [J], [30] [31] which involved a petition for certiorari by the Assistant Provincial Fiscal of Bataan to annul the order of the Judge denying his motion to dismiss the case, at the same time ordering him to file the corresponding information for violation of Article 133 RPC within a period of five days.

On this note, I still have to find relevant jurisprudence, where Article 133 is mentioned in the body of the majority decision, if any, which were promulgated during the effectivity of the 1973 and the current 1987 Constitution.

F. Are the elements of Article 133, without doubt, present?

1. Elements of Article 133 RPC

Luis B. Reyes — in his Revised Penal Code, Vol. II, page 76 — provides for the elements of the crime under Article 133 RPC. They are the same elements provided in the dissent of then Justice Laurel in People vs. Baes, GR L-46000, 25 May 1939, En Banc, Concepcion [J], [32] to wit:

As defined, two essential elements must be present under this article, to wit: (1) That the facts complained of were performed in a place devoted to religious worship or during the celebration of any religious ceremony; and (2) that the said act or acts must be notoriously offensive to the feelings of the faithful.

a. Acts complained of were performed in a place devoted to religious worship or during the celebration of any religious ceremony

i. Place devoted to religious worship

Article 301 RPC may be used suppletorily to determine what may be deemed a place devoted to religious worship. Article 301 provided:

Article 301. What is an inhabited house, public building or building dedicated to religious worship and their dependencies. — Inhabited house means any shelter, ship or vessel constituting the dwelling of one or more persons, even though the inhabitants thereof shall temporarily be absent therefrom when the robbery is committed.

All interior courts, corrals, waterhouses, granaries, barns, coach-houses, stables or other departments or inclosed places contiguous to the building or edifice, having an interior entrance connected therewith, and which form part of the whole, shall be deemed dependencies of an inhabited house, public building or building dedicated to religious worship.

Orchards and other lands used for cultivation or production are not included in the terms of the next preceding paragraph, even if closed, contiguous to the building and having direct connection therewith.

The term “public building” includes every building owned by the Government or belonging to a private person not included used or rented by the Government, although temporarily unoccupied by the same.

I still have to find authorities under the 1935 Constitution and subsequent that would have negated the nature of a place devoted to religious worship, just because a celebration of a religious ceremony was not being conducted, or that a civic or ecumenical event was being conducted in such place, at the time an apparently infringing act was committed. Nevertheless, it was held prior that, in United States vs. Balcorta, GR 8722, 10 September 1913, En Banc, Trent [J], [33] that:

We have been unable to find any provision of law which requires religious services to be conducted in approved orthodox style in order to merit its protection against interference and disturbances. As stated in Hull vs. State (120 Ind., 153):

It makes no difference that the method of worship of those assembled was singular or uncommon. The protection of the statute is extended to all, irrespective of creed, opinion, or mode of worship.

Persons who meet for the purpose of religious worship, by any method which is not indecent and unlawful, have a right to do so without being molested or disturbed.

As to the present controversy for which this discussion was triggered, the alleged infringing act was committed inside the Manila Cathedral, a place devoted to religious worship for Roman Catholics in Manila, Philippines. Notwithstanding claims that an ecumenical meeting directed to a collective opinion on the then proposed Reproductive Health Bill was being held at the time at the said Cathedral, the declaration in United States vs. Balcorta, citing Hull vs. State seems to remain to prevail, unless contrary authorities could be found.

ii. During the celebration of any religious ceremony

The celebration of a religious ceremony may not be confined to the usual place devoted to religious worship. Religious processions and other religious gatherings may utilize public spaces when such ceremonies are conducted. Religious ceremonies may also be conducted in cemeteries, and even private spaces or habitations.

As to the present controversy, the expanded venue, in religious celebrations, in the provision results to certain anxieties. [34] Nevertheless, it may be claimed that infringement of the law “during the celebration of any religious ceremony,” would still greatly depend upon **when** such act would have been specifically committed, i.e. whether during the celebration of the religious ceremony, or on periods before or after such religious celebration, or else continuously.

The conflict lies with the definition of what would be deemed to be a “religious ceremony.” There are conflicting claims whether a religious ceremony was being conducted or not. One claims that there is an ecumenical service that was ongoing, while the other claim that a mass (or religious service) was conducted only hours after the act has been committed while amidst an ecumenical bible reading event.

A ceremony connotes “an act or series of acts performed according to a traditional or prescribed form.” [35] I still have to find jurisprudence which may have defined what is deemed to be a “religious ceremony.”

iii. Alternative scenarios in the clauses of the first element

Be as it may, it should be noted that the first element “acts complained of were performed in a place devoted to religious worship or during the celebration of any religious ceremony” provides for two alternative scenarios, i.e. performed in a place devoted to religious worship, OR performed during the celebration of any religious ceremony. Satisfaction of one would provide the presence of the first element in Article 133 RPC.

In the present controversy, the emphasis on the second scenario might be misplaced as the first scenario may already be present for the first element to exist, under the caveats made above for the first scenario.

b. Act was notoriously offensive to the religious feelings of the faithful

i. Notoriously offensive

What is “notoriously offensive” is provided by the then Justice Laurel’s dissenting opinion in People vs. Baes, GR L-46000, 25 May 1939, En Banc, Concepcion [J] [36] — as did Luis B. Reyes in his Revised Penal Code, Vol. II, page 76 – to wit:

[A]n act, in order to be considered as notoriously offensive to the religious feelings, must be one directed against religious practice or dogma or ritual for the purpose of ridicule; the offender, for instance, mocks, scoffs at or attempts to damage an object of religious veneration; it must be abusive, insulting and obnoxious. (Viada, Comentarios al Codigo Penal, 707, 708; vide also Pacheco, Codigo Penal, p. 359).

In the present controversy, one lawyer thinks that the act was not notoriously offensive. [37] Another lawyer, and a defense witness in the case, believed similarly. [38] The complainant in the case and his witnesses believed otherwise. [39]

Is the act complained of “one directed against religious practice or dogma or ritual for the purpose of ridicule”? More specifically, is the act of showing a placard which provides a reference to a fictional character in one of the novels of Jose Rizal an act directed against religious practice or dogma or ritual of the Catholic Church? Similarly, a subsequent utterence of “Don’t meddle in politics” also one directed against religious practice or dogma or ritual? Would involvement in politics be officially considered a religious practice of the Roman Catholic Church in the Philippines?

ii. Religious feelings of the faithful

On the other hand, as to whose religious sensitivities should be taken in consideration for alleged violation of Article 133 was provided similarly in People vs. Baes. What was considered therein however was the religious sensitivities of one sect, as to the religious sensitivities of another sect, considering the circumstances of that case. As to the determination whether the act is indeed offensive to the religious feelings of the faithful, the majority opinion therein provided that:

[W]hether 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.

Then Justice Laurel dissented on that particular point. The rational approach of then Justice Laurel on this matter has not become part of a majority decision for it to be appreciated fully. Justice Laurel articulated therein:

I express the opinion that offense to religious feelings should not be made to depend upon the more or less broad or narrow conception of any given particular religion, but should be gauged having in view the nature of the acts committed and after scrutiny of all the facts and circumstance which should be viewed through the mirror of an unbiased judicial criterion. Otherwise, the gravity or leniency of the offense would hinge on the subjective characterization of the act from the point of view of a given religious denomination or sect, and in such a case, the application of the law would be partial and arbitrary, withal, dangerous, especially in a country said to be “once the scene of religious intolerance and persecution.” (Aglipay vs. Ruiz, 35 Off. Gaz., 2164.)

The opinion in People vs. Baes narrowed down who should be determined to be offended by an alleged infringing act.

The present controversy somehow pursues a narrower set. Do the sensitivities of those who filed the case approximate the sensitivities of members of the said church in general? This question appears necessary in light of the holding in People vs. Baes, and considering that there has been no subsequent judicial declaration, so far, that admits of a narrower conception.

G. Act punishable under Article 133 RPC or under some other RPC provision?

1. Acts not within purview of Article 133 RPC

When a chaplain, wearing surplice, was assaulted (struck in the face with hand) as he was leaving church premises, such is covered by Article 359 RPC (Slander by deed), and not under Article 133 RPC. In People vs. Nosce, GR L-41757, 13 November 1934; En Banc, Avancena [CJ], [40] it was held:

[A]rticle 240, paragraph 1, of the Spanish Penal Code reads as follows:

The penalty of prision correccional in its medium and maximum periods and a fine ranging from 250 to 1,500 pesetas shall be imposed upon:

1. Anyone who, by acts, words, gestures or threats, shall insult the minister of any religion while in the performance of his functions.

xxx

Article 240 of the Spanish Penal Code was not adopted in our Revised Penal Code but in lieu thereof there is article 359 which reads as follows:

ART. 359. Slander by deed. – The penalty of arresto mayor in its maximum period to prision correccional in its minimum period or a fine ranging from 200 to 1,000 pesos shall be imposed upon any person who shall perform any act not included and punished in this title, which shall cast dishonor, discredit or contempt upon another person. If said act is not of a serious nature, the penalty shall be arresto menor or a fine not exceeding 200 pesos.

This court is of the opinion that the act committed by the appellant falls under this legal provision. The offended party is invested with sacerdotal dignity in his religion and was officiating as such priest during solemn religious ceremonies before a large congregation. There certainly could have been no other circumstances under which greater dishonor, discredit and contempt could be cast upon him before the faithful over whom he held so high a dignity.

When a person constructs a fence adjacent to the chapel where the pabasa was being undertaken during nightime, such is covered by Article 287 RPC (Unjust vexation), and not under Article 133 RPC. In People vs. Reyes, GR L-40577, 23 August 1934, En Banc, Hull [J], [41] it was held:

It is to be noted that article 133 of the Revised Penal Code punishes acts “notoriously offensive to the feelings of the faithful.” The construction of a fence, even though irritating and vexatious under the circumstances to those present, is not such an act as can be designated as “notoriously offensive to the faithful”, as normally such an act would be a matter of complete indifference to those not present, no matter how religious a turn of mind they might be.

The disturbance or interruption of any ceremony of a religious character under the old Penal Code was denounced by article 571 and was punished by arrest from one to ten days and a fine of from 15 to 125 pesetas. But this article was omitted from the Revised Penal Code and the offense, if any was committed by the appellants, is denounced in article 287 as an “unjust vexation” and punished by arresto menor or a fine ranging from 5 to 200 pesos or both.

It is urged upon us that the act of building a fence was innocent and was simply to protect private property rights. The fact that this argument is a pretense only is clearly shown by the circumstances under which the fence was constructed, namely, late at night and in such a way as to vex and annoy the parties who had gathered to celebrate the pabasa and is further shown by the fact that many of the appellants saw fit to introduce as their defense a false alibi.

2. Was the act really punishable under Article 133 RPC?

Relevant to the present controversy, considering the lingering questions that attend the second element of Article 133 RPC, inspiring calls for the acquittal of the actor, could the act be punished instead under a different provision under the Revised Penal Code?

Article 132 RPC (also under the section “Crimes against religious worship”) is not applicable inasmuch as the required element of “public officer or employee” as the actor for the crime is not present. However, the second clause of the first paragraph of Article 153 RPC (“any person who … shall interrupt or disturb public performances, functions or gatherings, or peaceful meetings, if the act is not included in the provisions of Articles 131 and 132”), might find applicability. Article 153 RPC carries with it the penalty of arresto mayor in its medium period to prision correccional in its minimum period and a fine not exceeding 1,000 pesos.

V. Miscellaneous Issues

A. Priests and Article 133 RPC

Fr. Bernas, a Philippine Constitutionalist, in his column in Philippine Daily Inquirer, recently provided an inquiry involving the present controversy:

Finally, Article 133 also raises an intriguing question: When a priest or bishop castigates or consigns to the netherworld those who oppose the Reproductive Health Law in a sermon before a captive audience of churchgoers, should he be penalized by the State or canonically censured for offending religious feelings? After all, defenders of the RH Law also have feelings! What is good for the gander should also be good for the goose. [42]

The facts of the scenario stated apparently but hardly provides for an issue. The Roman Catholic Church in the Philippines is adamantly against the Reproductive Health Law. [43] Any articulation thereto would be consistent to the position of the Church, however abrasive it may be to targets of such articulation. On other church practices, it may be observed that there has been nary a case against clerics under pertinent provisions of the Revised Penal Code, such as slander by deed or unjust vexation, for refusing communion inamuch as such is clearly within religious policy. [44]

On the other hand, considering that the homily/sermon is part of the Roman Catholic liturgical rite, there may be questions on the jurisdiction of the courts, if the State pursues a criminal case against a cleric for exercise of his religion – being the presiding officer – in a religious ceremony; and articulating religious speech, which is his function, in a part of such ceremony. The argument that “What is good for the gander should also be good for the goose” would fail through claims for substantial distinction between authorities and subjects. Further, the Benevolent Neutrality approach and the Compelling State Interest test requirements in cases involving exercise of religious freedom, as was in Estrada vs. Escritor, may behoove the court from hearing the same.

In furtherance of the inquiry proferred by Fr. Bernas, an alternative scenario for Article 133 RPC could be:

When a priest or bishop who has been reassigned to a parish or diocese away from the place of his previous assignment – inasmuch as he has sired a child therein whether with an unmarried or married woman, else molested a child therein – castigates those who do not appear conservatively in church and speaks fervently against promiscuity; while some of his new parishioners have been made aware prior to such ceremony of his circumstances; would such articulation, of clear hypocrisy as felt by such parishioners, be the basis of a criminal proceeding under Article 133 RPC? Else, should he be merely canonically censured for offending religious feelings?

Parenthetically, the discussion on religious speech, in the case of Iglesia ni Cristo v. Court of Appeals, GR 119673, 26 July 1996, En Banc, Puno [J], [45] may be instructive on when the State can regulate the exercise of religious freedom. In Estrada vs. Escritor, AM P-02-1651, 4 August 2003, En Banc, Puno [J]: [46]

Three years after Ebralinag, the Court decided the 1996 case of Iglesia ni Cristo v. Court of Appeals, et al. (259 SCRA 529 [1996]) Although there was a dissent with respect to the applicability of the “clear and present danger” test in this case, the majority opinion in unequivocal terms applied the “clear and present danger” test to religious speech. … Quoting Justice Cruz’ commentary on the constitution, the Court held that freedom to believe is absolute but freedom to act on one’s belief, where it affects the public, is subject to the authority of the state. The commentary quoted Justice Frankfurter’s dissent in Barnette which was quoted in Gerona, viz: “(t)he constitutional provision on religious freedom terminated disabilities, it did not create new privileges. It gave religious liberty, not civil immunity. Its essence is freedom from conformity to religious dogma, not freedom from conformity to law because of religious dogma.” (Id. at 543; citing Cruz, I., Constitutional Law [1991], p. 178) Nevertheless, the Court was quick to add the criteria by which the state can regulate the exercise of religious freedom, that is, when the exercise will bring about the “clear and present danger of some substantive evil which the State is duty bound to prevent, i.e., serious detriment to the more overriding interest of public health, public morals, or public welfare.” (Id., citing Cruz, I., Constitutional Law [1991], p. 544)

Replying to the challenge on the applicability of the “clear and present danger” test to the case, the Court acknowledged the permutations that the test has undergone, but stressed that the test is still applied to four types of speech: “speech that advocates dangerous ideas, speech that provokes a hostile audience reaction, out of court contempt and release of information that endangers a fair trial” (Id., citing Cruz, I., Constitutional Law [1991], p. 551, citing Hentoff, Speech, Harm and Self-Government: Understanding the Ambit of the Clear and Present Danger Test, 91 Col. Law Rev. No. 6, p. 1453 [1991]) and ruled, viz:

. . . even allowing the drift of American jurisprudence, there is reason to apply the clear and present danger test to the case at bar which concerns speech that attacks other religions and could readily provoke hostile audience reaction. It cannot be doubted that religious truths disturb and disturb terribly. (Id.)

In Iglesia therefore, the Court went back to Gerona insofar as holding that religious freedom cannot be invoked to seek exemption from compliance with a law that burdens one’s religious exercise. It also reiterated the “clear and present danger” test in American Bible Society and the “grave and imminent danger” in Victoriano, but this time clearly justifying its applicability and showing how the test was applied to the case.

In sum, the Philippine Supreme Court has adopted a posture of not invalidating a law offensive to religious freedom, but carving out an exception or upholding an exception to accommodate religious exercise where it is justified. (Bernas, Constitutional Rights and Social Demands, Part II, p. 314)

B. Church interference on political matters

It is noted, due to the proximity of the May 2013 elections and the recent promulgation of the Responsible Parenthood and Reproductive Health Act of 2012, or Republic Act 10354, [47] the Roman Catholic Church has apparently called for a boycott of all politicians who supported the RH Bill. [48]

The actuations of the Church brings back parallels to the passages of then Justice Makasiar’s dissent in Pamil vs. Teleron, GR L-34854, 20 November 1978, En Banc, Fernando [J], [49] which quoted Former Senator Claro M. Recto, the father of the 1935 Constitution, in his “The Church and State Under the Constitution” (Lawyers Journal March 31, 1958, pp. 83-84):

And yet we have been witnesses to the fact in the last two elections that religious organizations, priests and nuns, bishops and archbishops descended upon the political arena, not only to urge the faithful to support their own favorite candidates for national positions, but to enjoin them from voting for certain candidates whom the hierarchy considered enemies of the church, under threat of ex-communication and eternal damnation The confessional and the pulpit have been utilized for these purposes.

xxx xxx xxx

Happily for the winning candidate for Vice-President, they were all united for him. Not that the other three candidates for the office were reputed enemies of the church. But one of them, orthodox in his faith and a regular observant, they disliked for having sponsored and voted for the Rizal Bill. They discarded another supposedly because of his allegedly non-too-exemplary private life. And as to a third one, an acknowledged Catholic leader, it was their belief that it would be wasting votes on him as he was never given a chance to win. The victor, being the sole candidate of the church for Vice- President, could not but win, thus justifying the name with which he was christened, the Spanish word for God-given: Diosdado. The church was also successful in electing two senators. Not that the remaining six were not Catholics, but that they were not particularly favorites.

It is thus undeniable that while the Constitution enjoins the state from requiring any religious test for the exercise of political rights, it is the church that in practice has of late required such a test according to its own standards.

What was the cause of this sudden political belligerence on the part of the hierarchy? Why this recent unabashed attempt to dominate the state through the ballot box? No better answer can be given except that the hierarchy must have reached a decision to implement the policy announced in Rome in 1948, not exactly by the Vatican, but by the official organ of a powerful religious organization reputed to be adviser to Popes, in a leading article which proclaimed the following:

The Roman Catholic Church, convinced through its devisee prerogatives, of being the only true church, must demand the right of freedom for herself alone, because such a right can only be possessed by truth, never by error. As to other religions, the Church will certainly never draw the sword, but she will require that by legitimate means they shall not be allowed to propagate false doctrine. Consequently, in a state where the majority of the people are Catholic, the Church will require that legal existence be denied to error, and that if religious minorities actually exist, they shall have only a de facto existence without opportunity to spread their beliefs … In some countries, Catholics will be obliged to ask full religious freedom for all, resigned at being forced to co-habitate where they alone should rightfully be allowed to live. But in doing this the Church does not renounce her thesis, which remains the most imperative of her laws, but merely adapts herself to de facto conditions, which must be taken into account in practical affairs …

This is the essence, not of religious freedom, but of sectarian intolerance: the church, when a minority in a given country, urges freedom of worship and co-existence along with others; but when in the majority, it denies that freedom to other faith denominations, and claims a monopoly on truth. Certainly this was not the view of the founders of the American Republic when they instituted the principle of religious freedom.

Interestingly, then Justice Barredo’s dissent indicated articulations from the then Pope John Paul I as to the separation of Church and State, as described in the Times Journal editorial of 6 September 1978. This refers to the “Address of His Holiness John Paul I to the Diplomatic Corps (31 August 1978):” [50]

In the range of diplomatic posts your role here is unique, just as the mission and competence of the Holy See are unique. Obviously we have no temporal goods to exchange, no economic interests to discuss, such as your States have. Our possibilities for diplomatic interventions are limited and of a special character. They do not interfere with purely temporal, technical and political affairs, which are matters for your Governments. In this way, our diplomatic missions to your highest civil authorities, far from being a survival from the past, are a witness to our deep-seated respect for lawful temporal power, and to our lively interest in the humane causes that the temporal power is intended to advance. Similarly, you are here your Governments’ spokesmen and watchful witnesses of the Holy See’s spiritual activity. On both sides there is presence, respect, exchange and collaboration, without confusing the competences.

Our services, consequently, are of two orders. It can be, if we are invited, participation by the Holy See as such, at the level of your Governments or of the international entities, in the search for better solutions to the great problems that see at stake détente, disarmament, peace, justice, humanitarian measures and aid, development, etc. Our representatives or delegates take part in that search, as you know, speaking freely and disinterestedly. That is one appreciable form of cooperation or mutual aid that the Holy See has the possibility of contributing, thanks to the international recognition that it enjoys and the representation of the whole of the Catholic world that it ensures. We are ready to continue in this field the diplomatic and international activity already undertaken, to the extent that participation by the Holy See proves desired and fruitful, and is in correspondence with our means.

But our activity, at the service of the international community is also—we would say, chiefly—situated on another level, one that could be more specifically called pastoral and which belongs properly to the Church. It is a matter of contributing, through documents and commitments of the Apostolic See and of our collaborators throughout the Church, to forming consciences—chiefly the consciences of Christians but also those of men and women of good will, and through these forming a wider public opinion—regarding the fundamental principles that guarantee authentic civilization and real brotherhood between peoples. These principles are: respect for one’s neighbour, for his life and for his dignity, care for his spiritual and social progress, patience and the desire for reconciliation in the fragile building up of peace; in short all the rights and duties of life in society and international life, as they have been set forth in the Council’s Constitution Gaudium et Spes and in so many messages by the late Pope Paul VI. Such attitudes, which in the logic of evangelical love the Christian faithful take or should take for their salvation, contribute to the gradual closer transformation of human relationships, the social fabric, and institutions. They help peoples and the international community to ensure more effectively the conditions for the common good and to discover the final meaning of their forward march. They have a civic and political impact. Your countries are trying to build a modern civilization, dedicating to this task efforts that are often ingenious and generous and have our full understanding and encouragement, as long as they are in conformity with the moral laws written by the Creator in the human heart. But we have confidence in God’s help. The Holy See will employ all its strength in that work. It also deserves your full interest.

Pope John Paul I died 28 days after, on 28 September 1978, after serving as Pope for 33 days.

C. Personal matters

Is Carlos Celdran a hero? [51] I would not delve on the matter. Suffice it to say that he successfully provided a viable discussion point.


Endnotes

[1] Canon 13 of the Code of Professional Conduct provides:

A lawyer shall rely upon the merits of his cause and refrain from any impropriety which tends to influence, or gives the appearance of influencing the Court.

Related thereto, Rule 13.02 of the Code of Professional Conduct provides:

A lawyer shall not make public statements in the media regarding a pending case tending to arouse public opinion for or against a party.

[2] Torres, Tetch. “RH advocate Carlos Celdran guilty of offending Church.” Philippine Daily Inquirer. http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/348415/rh-advocate-carlos-celdran-guilty-of-offending-church; Meruenas, Mark. “Church critic Carlos Celdran convicted for raising Damaso sign in cathedral” GMA News Online. http://www.gmanetwork.com/news/story/292332/news/metromanila/church-critic-carlos-celdran-convicted-for-raising-damaso-sign-in-cathedral; “Filipino activist Carlos Celdran convicted of offending Catholics” Asian Correspondent. http://asiancorrespondent.com/96478/filipino-activist-carlos-celdran-convicted-of-offending-catholics/; “Decision on @CarlosCeldran : Guilty for “Offending the Religious Feelings”” BlogWatch. http://blogwatch.tv/2013/01/decision-on-carlosceldran-guilty-for-offending-the-religious-feelings/; Visconti, Katherine. “[Q and A] Celdran: ‘I’m Catholic until it is taken away from me’.” Rappler. http://www.rappler.com/nation/20678-q-and-a-celdran-i-am-catholic-until-it-is-taken-away-from-me

[3] People vs. Celdran, Criminal Case No. 398435-SA. Decision. http://www.scribd.com/doc/122655771/Facebook-com-OscarFranklinTan-Decision-convicting-Carlos-Celdran-2013

[4] Canon 5 of the Code of Professional Conduct provides:

A lawyer shall keep abreast of legal developments, participate in continuing legal education programs, support efforts to achieve high standards in law schools as well as in the practical training of law students and assist in disseminating the law and jurisprudence.

[5] Article III (Bill of Rights) of the 1987 Constitution provides:

Section 1. No person shall be deprived of life, liberty, or property without due process of law, nor shall any person be denied the equal protection of the laws.

Section 2. The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects against unreasonable searches and seizures of whatever nature and for any purpose shall be inviolable, and no search warrant or warrant of arrest shall issue except upon probable cause to be determined personally by the judge after examination under oath or affirmation of the complainant and the witnesses he may produce, and particularly describing the place to be searched and the persons or things to be seized.

Section 3.

1. The privacy of communication and correspondence shall be inviolable except upon lawful order of the court, or when public safety or order requires otherwise, as prescribed by law.

2. Any evidence obtained in violation of this or the preceding section shall be inadmissible for any purpose in any proceeding.

Section 4. No law shall be passed abridging the freedom of speech, of expression, or of the press, or the right of the people peaceably to assemble and petition the government for redress of grievances.

Section 5. No law shall be made respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof. The free exercise and enjoyment of religious profession and worship, without discrimination or preference, shall forever be allowed. No religious test shall be required for the exercise of civil or political rights.

Section 6. The liberty of abode and of changing the same within the limits prescribed by law shall not be impaired except upon lawful order of the court. Neither shall the right to travel be impaired except in the interest of national security, public safety, or public health, as may be provided by law.

Section 7. The right of the people to information on matters of public concern shall be recognized. Access to official records, and to documents and papers pertaining to official acts, transactions, or decisions, as well as to government research data used as basis for policy development, shall be afforded the citizen, subject to such limitations as may be provided by law.

Section 8. The right of the people, including those employed in the public and private sectors, to form unions, associations, or societies for purposes not contrary to law shall not be abridged.

Section 9. Private property shall not be taken for public use without just compensation.

Section 10. No law impairing the obligation of contracts shall be passed.

Section 11. Free access to the courts and quasi-judicial bodies and adequate legal assistance shall not be denied to any person by reason of poverty.

Section 12.

1. Any person under investigation for the commission of an offense shall have the right to be informed of his right to remain silent and to have competent and independent counsel preferably of his own choice. If the person cannot afford the services of counsel, he must be provided with one. These rights cannot be waived except in writing and in the presence of counsel.

2. No torture, force, violence, threat, intimidation, or any other means which vitiate the free will shall be used against him. Secret detention places, solitary, incommunicado, or other similar forms of detention are prohibited.

3. Any confession or admission obtained in violation of this or Section 17 hereof shall be inadmissible in evidence against him.

4. The law shall provide for penal and civil sanctions for violations of this Section as well as compensation to the rehabilitation of victims of torture or similar practices, and their families.

Section 13. All persons, except those charged with offenses punishable by reclusion perpetua when evidence of guilt is strong, shall, before conviction, be bailable by sufficient sureties, or be released on recognizance as may be provided by law. The right to bail shall not be impaired even when the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus is suspended. Excessive bail shall not be required.

Section 14.

1. No person shall be held to answer for a criminal offense without due process of law.

2. In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall be presumed innocent until the contrary is proved, and shall enjoy the right to be heard by himself and counsel, to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation against him, to have a speedy, impartial, and public trial, to meet the witnesses face to face, and to have compulsory process to secure the attendance of witnesses and the production of evidence in his behalf. However, after arraignment, trial may proceed notwithstanding the absence of the accused: Provided, that he has been duly notified and his failure to appear is unjustifiable.

Section 15. The privilege of the writ of habeas corpus shall not be suspended except in cases of invasion or rebellion, when the public safety requires it.

Section 16. All persons shall have the right to a speedy disposition of their cases before all judicial, quasi-judicial, or administrative bodies.

Section 17. No person shall be compelled to be a witness against himself.

Section 18.

1. No person shall be detained solely by reason of his political beliefs and aspirations.

2. No involuntary servitude in any form shall exist except as a punishment for a crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted.

Section 19.

1. Excessive fines shall not be imposed, nor cruel, degrading or inhuman punishment inflicted. Neither shall death penalty be imposed, unless, for compelling reasons involving heinous crimes, the Congress hereafter provides for it. Any death penalty already imposed shall be reduced to reclusion perpetua.

2. The employment of physical, psychological, or degrading punishment against any prisoner or detainee or the use of substandard or inadequate penal facilities under subhuman conditions shall be dealt with by law.

Section 20. No person shall be imprisoned for debt or non-payment of a poll tax.

Section 21. No person shall be twice put in jeopardy of punishment for the same offense. If an act is punished by a law and an ordinance, conviction or acquittal under either shall constitute a bar to another prosecution for the same act.

Section 22. No ex post facto law or bill of attainder shall be enacted.

[6] http://www.lawphil.net/judjuris/juri2003/aug2003/am_p-02-1651_2003.html

[7] http://www.lawphil.net/judjuris/juri2006/jun2006/am_p-02-1651_2006.html

[8] Estrada vs. Escritor, 2003, supra.

[9] Estrada vs. Escritor, 2006, supra.

[10] Estrada vs. Escritor, 2003, supra.

[11] http://www.lawphil.net/judjuris/juri1934/nov1934/gr_l-41757_1934.html

[12] The case emanated from the following facts: The offended party, Reverend Father Ulric Arcand, was the chaplain of the Catholic Youth in the municipality of Lucena, Tayabas, and had his residence in said municipality. Some disgruntled residents were working for his transfer to another municipality. On December 3, 1933, Mgr. Verzosa, the Catholic Bishop of the Diocese of Lipa, was on a pastoral visit in the municipality of Lucena and, taking advantage of his presence there, those who were against the offended party staged a public demonstration, held a meeting, and even sent a delegation headed by the appellant to seek an audience with the bishop and express their desire to have the offended party transferred to another municipality. On the afternoon of that day the bishop administered the sacrament of confirmation in the parish church and later, while he was leaving the church preceded by the priests in attendance, among them the offended party, and while he was presenting his pastoral ring to be kissed by the faithful who thronged the passageway, the appellant arrived. At that moment the offended party was at the main door of the church looking outward and trying to locate the car that was to take the bishop to the convent. The appellant approached the offended party in an attempt to speak to him but the latter told him that he had no time to talk to him then, whereupon the appellant assaulted and struck him in the face with his hand. Upon feeling the blow the offended party called to a policeman for help and while the appellant attempted to pursue the offended party, one of the persons present held and detained the former and put an end to the incident. According to the appellant, when he tried to talk to the offended party, the latter, who had his hand raised to about the level of his head, made gestures of refusal to hear him and what he did was to repel the offended party’s hand. It was said offended party’s own hand that touched his cheek. When the offended party was thus assaulted, he was in surplice which is sworn only during religious ceremonies. The ceremonies on said occasion consisted in accompanying the bishop from the convent to the altar of the church; then follows the confirmation ceremonies and later the bishop is accompanied from the altar on his return to the convent. In going to the church as well as on his return to the convent, the bishop is accompanied by the faithful and the priests in procession.

[13] For reference, Articles 236 to 241 of the Spanish Código Penal de 1870, untranslated, provided:

Seccion Tercera.
Delitos relativos al libre ejercicio de los cultos.

Articulo 236. Incurrirá en la pena de prision correccional en sus grados medio y máximo y multa de 250 á 2.500 pesetas, el que por medio de amenazas, violencias ú otros apremios ilegítimos forzare á un ciudadano á ejercer actos religiosos ó á asistir á funciones de un culto que no sea el suyo.

Articulo 237. Incurrirá en las mismas penas señaladas en el artículo anterior el que impidiere, por los mismos medios, á un ciudadano practicar los actos del culto que profese ó asistir á sus funciones.

Articulo 238. Incurrirán en la pena de arresto mayor en su grado máximo á prision correccional en su grado mínimo y multa de 125 á 1250 pesetas:

1.º El que por los medios mencionados en el articulo anterior forzare á un ciudadano á practicar los actos religiosos ó á asistir á las funciones del culto que éste profese.

2.º El que por los mismos medios impidiere á un ciudadano observar las fiestas religiosas de su culto.

3.º El que por los mismos medios le impidiere abrir su tienda, almacen ú otro establecimiento, ó le forzare á abstenerse de trabajos de cualquiera especie en determinadas fiestas religiosas.

Lo prescrito en los articulos anteriores se entiende sin perjuicio de las disposiciones generales ó locales de órden público y policía.

Articulo 239. Incurrirán en las penas de prision mayor en sus grados minimo y medio los que tumultuariamente impidieren, perturbaren ó hicieren retardar la celebracion de los actos de cualquier culto en el edificio destinado habitualmente para ello, ó en cualquier otro sitio donde se celebraren.

Articulo 240. Incurrirán en las penas de prision correccional en sus grados medio y máximo y multa de 250 á 2.500 pesetas:

1.º El que con hechos, palabras, gestos ó amenazas ultrajare al Ministro de cualquier culto, cuando se hallare desempeñando sus funciones.

2.º El que por los mismos medios impidiere, perturbare ó interrumpiere la celebracion de las funciones religiosas en el lugar destinado habitualmente á ellas ó en cualquier otro en que se celebraren.

3.º El que escarneciere públicamente alguno de los dogmas ó ceremonias de cualquiera religion que tenga prosélitos en España.

4.º El que con el mismo fin profanare públicamente imágenes, vasos sagrados ó cualesquiera otros objetos destinados al culto.

Articulo 241. El que en un lugar religioso ejecutare con escándalo actos que, sin estar comprendidos en ninguno de los articulos anteriores, ofendieren el sentimiento religioso de los concurrentes, incurrirá en la pena de arresto mayor en sus grados mimimo y medio.

“Código penal reformado: Mandado publicar provisionalmente, en virtud de autorización concedida al Gobierno por la ley de 17 de junio de 1870.” pp. 68-69. Universidade de Santiago de Compostela. http://sirio.ua.es/libros/BDerecho/codigo_penal/index.htm

[14] For reference, Articles 219 to 227 of the Penal Code of 1884 (under Book II [Crimes and their Penalties], Title II [Crimes Against the Fundamental Laws of the State], Chapter II (Crimes Committed on the Occasion of Individual Rights Guaranteed by the Constitution], Section III [Crimes in connection with religion and worship]), as translated to English, provided:

Article 219. Those who by violence, disorderly conduct, threats, or tumults prevent, interrupt, or disturb the functions, acts, ceremonies, or manifestations of the religion of the State shall be punished with the penalty of prision correccional and a fine of from 65 to 650 pesetas, if the crime were committed in churches, chapels, or places devoted; and with that of arresto mayor to prision correccional in its minimum degree, and a fine of from 50 to 500 pesetas should the offense be committed in any other place.

Article 220. He who with the intention of offending the Catholic religion shall trample, cast on the ground, or in any other manner profane the sacred elements of the Eucharist, shall be punished with the penalty of prision mayor.

Article 221. Those who in offense of the State religion shall trample, destroy, break, or profane sacred objects devoted to worship; within churches or without them, shall incur the penalty of prision correccional.

Article 222. He who with deliberate intention ridicules the Catholic religion by word or writing, publicly contemning its dogmas, rites, or ceremonies, shall be punished with the penalty of arresto mayor to prision correccional in its minimum degree, if the deed should have occurred in churches or on the occasion of acts of worship, and with that of arresto mayor if the crime should have been committed in other places and not on the occasion of such acts of worship.

Article 223. He who by means of menaces, violence, or other lawless coercion shall force any person to perform acts of worship, or prevent him from performing them, shall incur the penalty of prision correccional in its medium and maximum degrees and a fine of from 625 to 6,250 pesetas.

Article 224. Those who, by employing the means mentioned in article 219, shall prevent or disturb the worship and the rites of the Catholic religion within the precincts of the cemeteries, shall be punished with the penalty of arresto mayor.

Article 225. The penalty of arresto mayor in its minimum degree shall be incurred by those who, making use of the same means as those enumerated in article 219, shall prevent persons from performing the acts of worship of a religion which is not the Catholic one, within the cemeteries or other precincts authorized or which may be authorized hereafter.

Article 226. Those who shall publicly perform acts of propaganda, preaching or other ceremonies which are not those of the religion of the State, shall incur the penalty of prision correccional in its minimum degree.

The provisions contained in articles 219, 222, 224, 225, and in the first paragraph of this article, are understood without prejudice to the general provisions relating to public order and those of the police.

Article 227. The provisions contained in this section shall be understood without prejudice to what is prescribed with regard to foreigners residing in the Philippine Islands in proclamations or regulations in force, or by virtue of customs legally authorized by the general government of said islands.

On the other hand, Article 571 (1) of the Penal Code of 1884 (under Book III [Misdemeanors and their penalties], Title I [Misdemeanors under public order]) provided:

Article 571. The following shall be punished with the penalty of arrest of from one to ten days, and a fine of from 15 to 125 pesetas:

1. Those who shall disturb any act of a religious character in any manner not foreseen in Section III, Chapter II, Title II of Book II of this code.

xxx

“Translation of the Penal code in force in the Philippines [microform] (1900),” pp. 55-56, 115. Washington, Govt. printing office. Digitized by University of Michigan. http://archive.org/details/afj2318.0001.001.umich.edu

[15] supra.

[16] Art. 367. Repealing Clause. — Except as is provided in the next preceding article, the present Penal Code, the Provisional Law for the application of its provisions, and Acts Nos. 277, 282 ,480, 518, 519, 899, 1121, 1438, 1523, 1559, 1692, 1754, 1955, 1773, 2020, 2036, 2071, 2142, 2212, 2293, 2298, 2300, 2364, 2549, 2557, 2595, 2609, 2718, 3103, 3195, 3244, 3298, 3309, 3313, 3397, 3559, and 3586, are hereby repealed.

xxx

[17] Supra.

[18] Robles, Raissa. “Criminal law professor questions constitutionality of the crime of “offending religious feelings”.” http://raissarobles.com/2013/01/28/criminal-law-professor-questions-constitutionality-of-the-crime-of-offending-religious-feelings/

[19] Article 11 RPC provides:

Article 11. Justifying circumstances. — The following do not incur any criminal liability:

1. Anyone who acts in defense of his person or rights, provided that the following circumstances concur;

First. Unlawful aggression.
Second. Reasonable necessity of the means employed to prevent or repel it.
Third. Lack of sufficient provocation on the part of the person defending himself.

2. Any one who acts in defense of the person or rights of his spouse, ascendants, descendants, or legitimate, natural or adopted brothers or sisters, or his relatives by affinity in the same degrees and those consanguinity within the fourth civil degree, provided that the first and second requisites prescribed in the next preceding circumstance are present, and the further requisite, in case the revocation was given by the person attacked, that the one making defense had no part therein.

3. Anyone who acts in defense of the person or rights of a stranger, provided that the first and second requisites mentioned in the first circumstance of this Art. are present and that the person defending be not induced by revenge, resentment, or other evil motive.

4. Any person who, in order to avoid an evil or injury, does not act which causes damage to another, provided that the following requisites are present;

First. That the evil sought to be avoided actually exists;
Second. That the injury feared be greater than that done to avoid it;
Third. That there be no other practical and less harmful means of preventing it.

5. Any person who acts in the fulfillment of a duty or in the lawful exercise of a right or office.

6. Any person who acts in obedience to an order issued by a superior for some lawful purpose.

[20] http://www.lawphil.net/judjuris/juri1948/jan1948/gr_l-1800_1948.html

This was given a religious complexion in the case of Ignacio vs. Ela, GR L-6858, 31 May 1956, En Banc, Bautista-Angelo [J], albeit the fact that it was controversial due to persuasive articulations provided in the dissent of the then Justice Concepcion, relevant to the use of public property. http://www.chanrobles.com/cralaw/1956maydecisions.php?id=211

[21] Calonzo, Andreo. “Solon defends Carlos Celdran, says priests attack others in Church too.” GMA News. http://www.gmanetwork.com/news/story/293709/news/nation/solon-defends-carlos-celdran-says-priests-attack-others-in-church-too

[22] Dee, George. “Free speech and expression not real issue in Celdran case.” Philippine Daily Inquirer. http://opinion.inquirer.net/46289/free-speech-and-expression-not-real-issue-in-celdran-case; ChinoF. “Is there a Right to Offend?” Get Real Philippines. http://getrealphilippines.com/blog/2013/02/right-to-offend/

[23] http://www.lawphil.net/judjuris/juri1934/aug1934/gr_l-40577_1934.html

[24] The case emanated from the following facts: In the barrio of Macalong, municipality of La Paz, Province of Tarlac, there is a chapel where it is customary to hold what is known in local parlance as a pabasa. … The pabasa in Macalong used to begin on Palm Sunday and continue day and night, without any interruption whatsoever, until Good Friday. … While the pabasa was going on the evening of April 10, 1933, between 11 and 12 o’clock, the defendants Procopio Reyes, Policarpio Nacana, Florentino Clemente, Hermogenes Mallari, Marcelino Mallari, Castor Alipio, and Rufino Matias arrived at the place, carrying bolos and crowbars, and started to construct a barbed wire fence in front of the chapel. Alfonso Castillo, who was chairman of the committee in charge of the pabasa, tried to persuade them to refrain from carrying out their plan, by reminding them of the fact that it was Holy Week and that it was highly improper to construct a fence at that time of the evening. A verbal altercation ensued. When the people attending the pabasa in the chapel and those who were eating in the yard thereof noticed what was happening, they became excited and left the place hurriedly and in such confusion that dishes and saucers were broken and benches toppled over. The pabasa was discontinued and it was not resumed until after an investigation conducted by the chief of police on the following morning. …

[25] Supra.

[26] http://www.lawphil.net/judjuris/juri1939/may1939/gr_l-46000_1939.html

[27] The case emanated from the following facts: [Jose M.A. Baes,] Parish Priest of the Roman Catholic Church in the parish and municipality of Lumban, Province of Laguna, upon being duly sworn, charges Enrique Villaroca, Alejandro Lacbay and Bernardo del Rosario with an offense against religion committed as follows: “That on April 14, 1937, at about 9 o’clock a.m., in this municipality of Lumban, Province of Laguna, Philippines, and within the jurisdiction of this court, the aforesaid accused, while holding the funeral of one who in life was called Antonio Macabigtas, in accordance with the rites of religious sect known as the “Church of Christ”, willfully, unlawfully, and criminally caused the funeral to pass, as it in fact passed, through the chruchyard fronting the Roman Catholic Church, which churchyard belongs to the said Church, which churchyard belongs to the said Church and is devoted to the religious worship thereof, against the opposition of the undersigned complainant who, through force and threats of physical violence by the accused, was compelled to allow the funeral to pass through the said churchyard. An act committed in grave profanation of the place, in open disregard of the religious feelings of the Catholics of this municipality, and in violation of article 133 of the Revised Penal Code.”

[28] http://www.lawphil.net/judjuris/juri1969/mar1969/gr_l-29814_1969.html

[29] http://www.lawphil.net/judjuris/juri1937/dec1937/gr_l-45780_1937.html

[30] http://www.lawphil.net/judjuris/juri1958/may1958/gr_l-12196_1958.html

[31] It was alleged in the complaint filed by the Chief of Police, that while devotees of the Iglesia Ni Cristo were holding ceremony in a certain house in Dinalupihan, several persons (the accused in Criminal Case No. 278 of the Justice of the Peace Court of Dinalupihan, Bataan) stopped in front thereof, made unnecessary noise, and shouted derogatory words against the Iglesia Ni Cristo and its members, and even stoned the house. The Justice of the Peace conducted the preliminary investigation and reduced to writing the entire proceedings, wherein he made his findings of fact, after which he elevated the case to the Court of First Instance of Bataan, being of the opinion, as to violation of Article 133 RPC, that “the crime has in fact been committed and that the accused are probably guilty thereof”.

[32] Supra.

[33] http://www.lawphil.net/judjuris/juri1913/sep1913/gr_8722_1913.html

[34] Robles, Raissa. “Uh, oh! Who will be jailed next for ‘offending religious feelings’?” http://raissarobles.com/2013/01/28/uh-oh-who-will-be-jailed-next-for-offending-religious-feelings/

[35] “Ceremony.” Oxford Dictionary, Oxford Printing Press. http://oxforddictionaries.com/definition/english/ceremony

[36] Supra.

[37] Sta. Maria, Mel. “MEL STA. MARIA | Though deserving of censure, Carlos Celdran is no criminal.” Interaksyon. http://www.interaksyon.com/article/54070/mel-sta–maria–though-deserving-of-censure-carlos-celdran-is-no-criminal

[38] Robles, Raissa. “Ex-Comelec chair Christian Monsod thinks Carlos Celdran is not guilty.” http://raissarobles.com/2013/02/01/ex-comelec-chair-christian-monsod-thinks-carlos-celdran-is-not-guilty/

[39] Visconti, Katherine. “Church says it’s not behind Celdran case.” Rappler. http://www.rappler.com/nation/20760-church-says-it-s-not-behind-celdran-case

[40] Supra.

[41] Supra.

[42] Bernas, Fr. Joaquin G. SJ “Sounding Board: Of Padre Damaso and other things.” Philippine Daily Inquirer. http://opinion.inquirer.net/46209/of-padre-damaso-and-other-things

[43] “CBCP denounces promotion of culture of death, promiscuity” CBCP for Life. http://cbcpforlife.com/?p=10313

[44] Salaverria, Leila, et al. “OZAMIZ ARCHBISHOP SAYS: ‘Anti-life pols must be refused communion’.” Philippine Daily Inquirer. http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/inquirerheadlines/nation/view/20080714-148259/Anti-life-pols-must-be-refused-communion; Tordesillas, Ellen. “CBCP may adopt no-communion ban policy to pro-abortion politicians.” http://www.ellentordesillas.com/2008/07/15/cbcp-adopts-no-communion-ban-policy-to-pro-abortion-politicians/; “Filipino Freethinkers Condemns the Denial of Eucharist to Supporters of the Reproductive Health Bill; Asks Catholic Supporters of the RH Bill to Oppose Church ‘Terrorism'” Filipino Freethinkers. http://filipinofreethinkers.org/2011/02/20/press-release-on-santuario-de-san-jose/

[45] http://www.lawphil.net/judjuris/juri1996/jul1996/gr_119673_1996.html

[46] Estrada vs. Escritor, 2003, supra.

[47] http://www.lawphil.net/statutes/repacts/ra2012/ra_10354_2012.html

[48] “Don’t vote for RH bill supporters, CBCP exec says.” ABS-CBN News. http://www.abs-cbnnews.com/nation/metro-manila/12/17/12/dont-vote-rh-bill-supporters-cbcp-exec-says

[49] http://www.lawphil.net/judjuris/juri1978/nov1978/gr_34854_1978.html

[50] “Address of His Holiness John Paul I to the Diplomatic Corps (31 August 1978)” Libreria Editrice Vaticana. http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/john_paul_i/speeches/documents/hf_jp-i_spe_31081978_diplomatic-corps_en.html

[51] Tatad, Gabbie. “Is Carlos Celdran a hero?” http://www.philstar.com/supreme/2013/02/02/903720/carlos-celdran-hero

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