Kinondena ng National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) ang desisyon ng Court of Appeals (CA) na nagpatibay sa unang hatol ng Manila Metropolitan Trial Court (MMTC) na ipakulong ang kontrobersiyal na tourist guide na si Carlos Celdran.
Si Celdran ay hinatulan ng MMTC na makulong mula dalawang buwan hanggang isang taon sa krimeng “offending religious beliefs” matapos siyang magsagawa ng protesta sa Manila Cathedral laban sa pagkontra ng Simbahang Katoliko sa Reproductive Health Law noong Setyembre 2010.
“While it may be argued that he had, indeed, offended the Catholic Church and its faithful, Mr. Celdran’s protest was as much an exercise of his constitutionally guaranteed freedom of expression as the diatribes of the clergy against the proponents of reproductive health,” saad sa pahayag ng NUJP.
“Jailing Mr. Celdran for speaking his mind,” dagdag ng NUJP, “is no different than the murder of the staff of Charlie Hebdo or, closer to home, the murders of journalists and others whose only crime was to report facts or voice views others may have disagreed with.”
Matapos pagtibayin ang desisyon ng MMTC sa pagkakakulong ni Celdran noong Disyembre 12, 2014, ibinasura rin ng CA ang apela ng tour guide na balewalain ang Article 133 ng Revised Penal Code o Offending the Religious Feelings.
Itinuring din ng NUJP ang tiyempo ng pagpapalabas ng desisyon ng CA na hindi napapanahon sa pagbisita ni Pope Francis.
“It is doubly ironic that the CA decision comes just ahead of the visit to the country of Pope Francis, a pontiff who has shown an unprecedented openness of mind that has not been loath to poke fun or even criticize the church he leads,” giit pa ng grupo (Alexander D. Lopez)