Authorities in Binalonan, a small Filipino town about 200 kilometres north of Manila, have made gossiping illegal under a new local law aimed at preventing rumors from spreading within the community.
Trash talking someone in Binalonan could see offenders literally picking up trash under a new local law designed to make people take responsibility for the things they say. First-time gossipers risk a fine of 200 pesos ($3.8) and three hours of collecting garbage in the streets, while repeat offenders would have to pay up to $20 and put in eight hours of community service. The law isn’t very clear on what qualifies as gossip, but mayor Ramon Guico cited peddling rumours 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 neighborhood of Binalonan since 2017. Multiple residents there have been fined 500 pesos ($10) and forced to spend an afternoon collecting trash as punishment for gossiping in public. Apparently, no one has 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 gather in the shade and talk about all sorts of things, like who’s been cheating on their spouse, or who has been raking up debt.