carlos is not charlie

in january 2013, the day after the metropolitan trial court pronounced carlos celdran guilty of offending religious feelings when he posed as rizal brandishing a damaso placard in the manila cathedral, i blogged, in fairness to carlos celdran, reacting to the phrase “there being no mitigating … circumstance.”

“Wherefore, premises considered, accused Carlos Celdran is found guilty beyond reasonable doubt for the crime of Offending the Religious Feelings under Article 133 of the Revised Penal Code and applying the Indeterminate Sentence Law, there being no mitigating and aggravating circumstance, he is hereby sentenced to suffer imprisonment of two months and 21 days as minimum to one year, one month and 11 days…”

i argued that there were mitigating circumstances back in those last days of september 2010 that drove celdran to take drastic action on the 30th.

two days before, september 28, the new prez spoke out unequivocally in favor of RH in a town hall meeting with expats in san francisco, earning the royal ire of the church. on the morning of september 30, newspapers and websites screamed the shocker that the CBCP was threatening the president with excommunication for being pro-choice and endorsing artificial contraceptives. that very afternoon celdran dramatized his outrage by staging his rizal-bearing-damaso-placard act in the manila cathedral.

the CBCP denied that excommunication threat the very next day but it’s not clear now whose mistake it was, the bishops’ or the reporters’, and the damage had been done.

mid-december that same year, 2010, to get in the mood i found myself doing the nine dawn masses of simbang gabi with katrina.  i hadn’t been to mass in ages except for the occasional wedding or wake, but suddenly i was curious to hear the christmas story again and how the church is telling it in this day and age.  only to be super scandalized and offended by a pre-mass anti-RH video and, after the gospel reading, a sermon partly dedicated to the evils of RH, even, equating RH with abortion, na contrary daw to isaiah the prophet’s admonition to “observe what is right, and do what is just.”  argh.  i remembered celdran and wished i had a placard screaming IT’S A LIE!  except i’m not one to make a scene, lol.

but carlos celdran is, one to make a scene, and, provoked, he did just that, but not at a mass — the day headlines screamed that bishops were threatening the president with excommuncation, it was a thursday, nothing going on in churches, except that ecumenical ek-ek at the manila cathedral, puwede na rin.

i get naman the view that celdran should not have disrupted whatever was going on (or not) in the confines of the church.  he could have pulled his stunt outside, like maybe at the doorstep, or the gates, staged there a monologue, an update on how the RH bill was faring in congress, or why not a dialogue with pro-RH fans and/or critics, even, an impersonation of, not rizal, but damaso, raised consciousness in the process.  media would surely have covered the show.

and i agree, that jail sentence is too much.  celdran was standing up and speaking out for 7 out of 10 filipinos long in favor of an RH law, butting heads with a most powerful and adamantly anti-RH church, and that was brave, and singular.

but please, let’s stop with the charlie hebdo referencing.  celdran being sentenced to some months in jail for offending religious feelings is not in a category with the charlie hebdo staff being killed, executed, for offensive caricatures of allah’s prophet. ibang sitwasyon at ibang level naman ‘yon.  si celdran nga ay matagal nang humingi ng paumanhin sa simbahan at malamang ay hindi na uulit, samantalang ang charlie hebdo ay tuloy-tuloy lang ang banat sa muslim fundamentalists.  to what end nga ba.