It was May 10, 2011 at Manila Regional Trial Court Branch 4. The court was packed with multiple complainants, lawyers, Honorable Alfonzo C. Ruiz II as the presiding Judge. More than 15 supporters of Carlos Celdran were the majority of the attendees including Manila Standard Writer Elizabeth Angsioco, Rhoda Avila and Cathy Gayo of Democratic Socialist Women of the Philippines, Janina Gillian Santos and Joanne Oliveros of Reproductive Health Bill, I Support Page in FB, Freethinkers Ryan Tani, Jeiel Aranal, Garrick Barcero, Kenneth Keng and Bea Torres.
At 1:20 pm Carlos Celdran wearing a Short sleeved Barong Tagalog over a black cotton long sleeve shirt and I met at Starbucks in SM City Manila then proceeded to the court. The hearing is for allegedly violating the Act 3815 section 4 Article 133 or “Offending Religious Feelings” which is the case filed by the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines by allegedly making a commotion at the Ecumenical Service they were celebrating last September 30, 2010 at Manila Cathedral.
While the sun shines hot outside, it is just as hot inside the court, literally. With an estimated 3 meters by 6 meters area of the room, 2.6 meters high ceiling, one airconditioner and one electric fan, everyone can feel the summer heat. The Judge started to call with the usual proceedings. It started with the other cases. After their cases were heard, only 18 were left in the court, 11 were Carlos supporters and some of his friends already went out to attend the session at the Senate.
CBCP presented a witness. She is Teresita Azzurin, 57 years old from Legazpi City, Bicol. She is a former College Theology teacher and was conducting recollections and seminars around the Philippines and a couple of times abroad. She is jobless as of the moment. Wearing a pink shirt, denim jeans and eyeglasses, Carlos lawyer Atty. Marlon Manuel cross examined her by asking different questions about what happened during the September 30, 2010 event.
According to the witness she attended the Manila Cathedral event because she was part of the procession. Her lawyer presented her “Sworn Affidavit” which is dated December 7, 2010.
The event in the Manila Cathedral was attended not only by Catholics but also with Protestants and Jew according to Teresita. Before the Mass and during the Ecumenical Service, He saw a quiet man wearing an outfit that was outdated with unusual haircut walking silently and thought it was a part of the event. That time, She saw him raise a placard with the word “Damaso” but not shouting and still thought it was part of the service and didn’t care about the sign. It was only after some people took Carlos out that she realized it’s not a part of the event. Also, it was only after the event she knew the name of the man who the commotion and realized that “Damaso” is “Father Damaso” tfrom Jose Rizal’s Novel and a bad example because he fathered a child according to her.
Atty. Manuel asked her if she knew who Maria Clara is and she said yes. Then he asked her again who is the father of Maria Clara and she said she didn’t know. The last question from Atty. Manuel to the witness is this: “As a former theology teacher, did you know from the bible that when Jesus saw different people inside the temple and causing a commotion he said to everyone to go out from the temple?” Teresita said “yes”.
The next trial is set on August 9, 2011.