MANILA, Philippines – Celebrity tour guide, activist and artist Carlos Celdran dominated the conversation on social media on Monday afternoon after he was found guilty of “offending religious feelings.”
Just like in 2010, when Celdran first staged a protest outside the Manila Cathedral against the Catholic Church’s stand on what was then known as the Reproductive Health Bill, Facebook and Twitter were again set abuzz by his supporters, naysayers and those who were simply curious.
The hashtag #FreeCarlosCeldran was at the top of local trends on microblogging site Twitter Monday afternoon, along with the topic “Damaso.” Earlier, #CarlosCeldran was also popular.
Coincidentally, “St. Thomas Aquinas” was a popular topic as well because January 28 is his feast day and people online were posting about the saint, who is the patron of universities and students.
Celdran was found guilty in a sentence penned in December 2012 by the Manila Metropolitan Trial Court for violating Article 133 of the Revised Penal Code, which imposes a penalty 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.”
The court ordered Celdran’s imprisonment of two months and 21 days up to one year, one month and 11 days.
Several celebrities and socialites, many of whom are personal friends of Celdran, voiced out their support for the artist.
Host Bianca Gonzalez posted on Twitter, "I'm Catholic and i'm offended that Carlos Celdran is found guilty despite an apology."
Model Georgina Wilson had several tweets about Celdran.
"Putting him in jail will only infuriate more people," she first tweeted.
"I can't believe we live in a society that puts people like him in jail. Its so depressing. And so backwards," she added.
Model Joey Mead King warned, "You cannot think jailing Carlos Celdran will tame the fight in him?It's gonna ignite him even more!"
Actress Iza Calzado tweeted, "Carlos Celdran does NOT deserve to go to jail!"
Fashion blogger Chuvaness tweeted, "It's just so wrong!!! Isn't the church about forgiveness?? Carlos already apologized!!!"
"Crying at Pepper Lunch thinking Carlos Celdran is going to jail!!!!!" she said.
Host and socialite Tim Yap also chimed in. "I was among the first ones who visited Carlos Celdran when he was in temporary custody of the police. No jail can tamper with his spirit," he said on Twitter.
Ely Buendia also tweeted, “Feelings, nothing more than religious feelings, trying to forget my feelings of love.”
Marc Nelson also told Celdran to be strong. “Be strong buddy. You made a stand & that stand made a difference where it counted.”
Jim Paredes said, "Saying one is for RH law IS already offending some religious feelings. Bawal din ba yun? What is freedom of speech? What is tolerance?"
However, others had mixed feelings about the movement on Twitter to free Celdran.
While they said it is important to address whether the findings of the court and the sentence imposed on Celdran is justified, people must also not ignore the issue of political prisoners and victims of impunity in the country.
"Hindi pa nakukulong free na agad? Di pa pwedeng ipanawwgsn muna yung talagang nasa kulungan, mga political detainee talaga na may lalim?" @checatolico said.
"Kapag pinalaya si carlos celdran, palayain na rin si ericson acosta." Toni Tiemsin posted.
Blogger Marck Ronald Rimorin also tweeted, "If you call to #FreeCarlosCeldran: call, free all political detainees. Surface the desaparecidos."
Others supported the verdict.
Meanwhile, Celdran also took to Twitter to voice his opinion on his guilty sentence.
"Guilty," he tweeted. "Well, now anyone can be found guilty for even offending The Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster."
"Naturally, we will appeal and hope for the best. But for now. I just want a Halo Halo."