A file image of Philippine Senator Leila de Lima. (Photo by Roy Lagarde)
A Philippine senator is seeking the repeal of a provision in the country's penal code that punishes the crime of "offending religious feelings" through words and actions.According to Senator Leila de Lima the "archaic" provision could violate an individual's constitutional right to freedom of speech and expression."Freedom of expression, which is a fundamental human right, is indispensable in any democratic society," said the senator.She said Article 133 of the Revised Penal Code also violates the Philippine Constitution's "non-establishment clause" and is "already obsolete."Section 4, Article 133 of the code states that anyone who performs acts "offensive to the feelings of the faithful" in a place devoted to religious worship or during the celebration of any religious ceremony can be imprisoned.
The opposition senator noted that the United Nations Human Rights Committee has emphasized that "freedom of thought and freedom of conscience are protected equally with the freedom of religion and belief and that these freedoms are non-derogable, even in times of public emergency."