A group of Catholics started an online petition asking President Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III to grant executive clemency to Manila tour guide Carlos Celdran.
The "Friends of Carlos," a group composed of friends and supporters, is also calling on the House of Representatives and Senate to repeal Article 133 of the Revised Penal Code.
“Carlos' conviction sets a dangerous precedent. This law can now be used for religious persecution of critics of the Catholic Church,” the petition said.
“This law sends a chilling effect on Filipinos and runs contrary to the Philippine Constitution's guarantees of freedom of expression,” it added.
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The petition started circulating online Wednesday evening after a local court convicted Celdran of violating the said law.
Celdran faces possible imprisonment of more than one year.
Miri Abello, one of Celdran’s long-time friends and who started the petition, said Celdran does not deserve to be imprisoned.
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“We (Friends of Carlos) are all educated Catholics and they are saying that if you support Carlos, then you are against the Church. No, that’s not true,” Abello told Yahoo! Southeast Asia.
“We just don’t agree that he should be given that amount of jail time when you have criminals who have done a lot of terrible things and they are still out there,” she added.
On December 14, a local court decided to sentence Celdran to suffer up to one year, one month and 11 days in prison for his "Damaso protest" in September.
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