Authorities in Binalonan, a small Filipino town about 200 kilometres north of Manila, have made gossipingillegal under a new local law aimed at preventingrumors from spreading within the community.
Trash talking someone in Binalonan could seeoffenders literally picking up trash under a new locallaw designed to make people take responsibility forthe things they say. First-time gossipers risk a fine of 200 pesos and three hours of collecting garbage in the streets, while repeat offenders wouldhave to pay up to $20 and put in eight hours of community service. The law isn’t very clear onwhat qualifies as gossip, but mayor Ramon Guico cited peddling rumors of residents’ relationships or financial situations as examples of punishable offences.
As bizarre as the new law may seem, it has actually been enforced in the Moreno neighborhoodof Binalonan since 2017. Multiple residents there have been fined 500 pesos and forced tospend an afternoon collecting trash as punishment for gossiping in public. Apparently, no onehas ever been sanctioned for a second offence, as nobody wants to be seen as a gossipmonger.
The crackdown on gossip and rumor spreading is being rolled out just in time for summer, which is reportedly the worst time of the year for such behavior, as heat forces locals to gatherin the shade and talk about all sorts of things, like who’s been cheating on their spouse, orwho has been racking up debt.
"It’s such a waste of time,” Mayor Guico said. “You’d think people would have something betterto do. Banning gossip is our way of improving the quality of life in our town.”
The 44-year-old mayor told the local press that the new law does not infringe on freedom ofspeech, insisting that it aims to protect members of the community from slander.
"This ordinance is to remind people that everything that we say is our responsibility asindividuals and as residents of this municipality. We want to show other towns that Binalonanhas good people; it is a good and safe place to stay,” Ramon Guico said.
Legal experts say the extradition process could take years as it weaves through various courts.