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Carlos Celdran, the Revised Penal Code, the Church and the State, and the Cybercrime Law

After two years (that’s how speedy our justice system in our country is), the case of Mr. Carlos Celdran, a tour guide and reproductive health advocate who interrupted an inter-faith gathering by raising a placard with the name of Padre Damaso on it as he protested against the Catholic Church’s opposition to the RH Bill (which is now a law), is now finally resolved. The Manila City Metropolitan Trial Court Branch 4 under Judge Juan Bermejo found him guilty of “offending religious feelings’’ (Article 133, Section 4 of the Revised Penal Code) that has an equivalent penalty of “prison term of a minimum of two months to a maximum of 13 months and 11 days.”

Manila Bulletin (MB) intern Jamaica Digo again asked for my thoughts for MB Students and Campuses Section on whether Mr. Celdran deserves to be jailed or not.  The article was published last February 4 and here are my thoughts:

“The law says he is bound for imprisonment for violating Article 133 of our Revised Penal Code. But the issue is: is ‘airing out’ our sentiments amidst religious gathering or even amidst any gathering or any place including the cyberworld, a crime? As long as it is non-violent, it should not be considered a crime. Hence, our campaign for the decriminalization of libel and the junking of the Cybercrime Law.

On the other hand, seeing things from a Catholic’s perspective, the Church could have just forgiven Celdran. Blessed John Paull II did that to his assassin. Moreso, Christ is doing that to His people as He teaches them not to hate the sinner but the sin. It is then ironic that the Filipino Catholic Church went after an individual for committing an act that did not physically harm anyone whereas it is not aggressive in going after those who have physically abused, even killed people who were just asserting for their rights and liberty.” –Kristian Jacob Abad Lora, fourth year, Computer Science, University of the Philippines-Cebu

First published on Manila Bulletin, February 4, 2013 http://www.mb.com.ph/articles/392430/should-carlos-celdran-be-punished-or-not

AMEND the 83-year old Revised Penal Code!
ASSERT our Freedom of Expression!
DECRIMINALIZE libel!
JUNK Cybercrime Law!


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Sinulog 2013: Socialism vs. Christianity?

“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.”

The priest who celebrated the mass that I attended this morning started his homily by emphasizing the relevance of Sto. Niño (Child Jesus) as the whole province is celebrating Sinulog (Feast of Sto. Niño). He explained why God chose to become human and undergo childhood, so on and so forth, until he came to what has become the focal point of his entire homily. He began by saying that there are two conflicting ideologies in the society today. First, he pointed out Socialism and defined it as a socio-political system (that started in French Revolution) based on égalité (equality), fraternité (fraternity) and the other principle, liberté (liberty), that he admitted he forgot.

His first statements were affirmative as he said that there is no objection to Socialism’s equality. He went further by emphasizing that the concept of equality is derived, actually, from Christianity which came first than Socialism. However, he stressed that there is a problem with Socialism’s equality, i.e., a person will keep on asserting his/her rights without considering the rights of others because he/she is pre-occupied in making sure that he/she is equally treated. Socialism lacks the concept of social responsibility which, on the other hand, Christianity (the other ideology he referred to in his premise) upholds. Unlike Christianity, he said, Socialism does not include caring for and defending the weakest among men and women. Christianity promotes preferential option for the poor, he added. He, then, concluded that Socialism is a selfish kind.

However, looking at his arguments, it seemed he was referring to Capitalism which is another social system that emphasizes individual rights. This social system, which became a global system at present, is the ultimate cause why there is a great gap between the rich and the poor, why only few own the lands and riches of the earth, why prices are high without regulation despite its promise of low prices due to competition, why people need to pay much for basic social services such as education and health, and why most people strive only for themselves, competing with one another for survival in this money-driven system.

But the priest forgot Socialism’s other principle that he mentioned which could have saved him from misinterpreting Socialism – fraternity. This principle is what makes Socialism different from other social system. In Capitalism, there is also liberty; it’s just that it is a blind liberty. It also asserts people’s rights but focuses much on individual rights. But with fraternity, Socialism does not limit every person to just asserting his/her individual rights, welfare and liberty but the rights, welfare and liberty of others, as well. With fraternity, Socialism inculcates in the mind of every person the concept of collective – that we are brothers and sisters who shall work together for progress, who shall protect one another and who shall look after the weakest among us as we aim for collective progress, liberty and equality. Unlike Capitalism where individualism and self-centeredness reigns brought by competition, in Socialism, there is unity. This principle is actually the same with what he said Socialism lacks.

In the middle of the priest’s homily, I thought of walking-out like what Carlos Celdran did but I did not have the courage. Also, why would I let a priest’s misleading homily ruin my purpose of attending the mass which was communing with Christ? If only that mass was like the synagogues around 2000 years ago where Jesus Christ would entertain questions and comments from His listeners, I would have raised all the points I wrote here and asked the priest and the church-goers in the end, “So, is Socialism really a selfish kind of social system? Is it really conflicting with Christianity on the matter of its basic principles?” Because for me, it is not. The priest, with all due respect, was just barking at the wrong tree.

First published at: http://www.facebook.com/notes/kristian-jacob-casas-abad-lora/sinulog-2013-socialism-vs-christianity/10151265476814794