When the temperatures rise and it is too hot to sit inside, the inhabitants of Binalonan, a small village in the Philippines, seek out the shade. There they share the latest news: gossip about the neighbors, scandals, affairs, divorces, and bankruptcies are reviewed. At least, they did because gossip was just forbidden by law.
The new law comes after numerous political struggles in the city council that was fed by gossip. “You can distinguish between different types of gossip, but here the gossip is mainly about money, property, and relationships,” said Filipino mayor Ramon Guico III. “This law should remind everyone that we are responsible for what we are trumpeting and the consequences.”
Anyone caught catching rumors or spreading gossip will be fined about € 3.50 and a community service sentence of three hours. This applies to a first violation. Those who are more often guilty of gossip must pay a fine of 16 euros and receive eight-hour community service. And the first victims have already fallen.
Freedom of speech
“A ban on gossip is our way to improve the quality of life in our city,” the mayor believes. “Our residents can do more useful things instead.” Moreover, according to him, the new law would not violate freedom of expression: “The people of Binalonan are very positive about the new law.”