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Celdran loses appeal in 'Damaso' case

MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) - Two months and 21 days — that's how long renowned tour guide and reproductive health advocate Carlos Celdran will be in jail for "offending religious feelings."

The Manila Regional Trial Court Branch 32 reaffirmed the Manila Metropolican Trial Court's decision that Celdran is "guilty without reasonable doubt" for offending religious feelings, when he disrupted a service at the Manila Cathedral back in 2010.

Celdran was earlier found guilty by the Manila Metropolitan Court late January for violating Article 133 of the Revised Penal Code (offending religious feelings) after he disrupted a service at the Manila Cathedral on Sept 30, 2010.

Celdran filed a motion to appeal the court's decision soon after, and on Thursday, September 5, he announced the court's decision on his Twitter account: "guilty without reasonable doubt."

The decision for my #Damaso appeal is in: GUILTY WITHOUT REASONABLE DOUBT. Two months and 21 days in jail. — carlosceldran (@carlosceldran) September 5, 2013

Questioning Article 133 

Celdran confirmed to Rappler that he only received the decision, dated August 12, on Thursday, September 5. He said they will appeal the decision before a higher court.

Celdran's lawyer Marlon Manuel told Rappler that while they're still discussing options, one thing is for sure: they will not accept the court's decision.

"[The decision] was worse than the first one," Manuel said, adding that Manila RTC Judge Themla Bunyi Medina relied heavily on the testimony of Fr. Oscar Alunday, the prosecution's last witness. 

Manuel added that they will not only appeal Celdran's case but also question the validity of Article 133 of the Revised Penal Code — something the Manila RTC's decision discussed. "There are 2 layers of presenting the issues — Carlos' case and the consitutionality [of Article 133]," he said. 

In the September 2010 incident, the outspoken reproductive health advocate, clad as the Filipino national hero Jose Rizal, held up a sign with the words “Damaso,” in reference to the villainous priest in Rizal’s famous novel "Noli Me Tangere." - with reports from Bea Cupin/Rappler.com