Talk isn't cheap: Filipino town bans gossiping in a bid to stop the rumour mill turning

Loose-lipped locals face fines and community service if they're caught breaking the new rules

The town of Binalonan, in the Philippines, has outlawed gossiping. Wiki Commons
The town of Binalonan, in the Philippines, has outlawed gossiping. Wiki Commons

In a small town in the Philippines, trash talking could now see you picking up literal trash.

Community leaders in Binalonan, located in the province of Pangasinan about 200 kilometres north of Manila, have made gossiping illegal under a new local law.

It is now an offence to spread rumours in the town, with offenders facing fines and community service, should they be found breaking the rules.

First-time offenders will receive a 200-peso penalty (Dh15), according to The Guardian, as well as be assigned three hours of picking up litter from the streets. Repeat law-breakers face fines of up to Dh72.

What classifies as gossip could be open to interpretation, but Binalonan's town mayor, Ramon Guico, cited peddling rumours of residents' relationships or financial situations as examples in an interview with the Wall Street Journal.

“Banning gossip is our way of improving the quality of life in our town,” the politician, who has also outlawed karaoke after 10pm, added to The Guardian.

“A gossip-less town is more fruitful because I believe people have better things to do than talk negatively about others.

"This ordinance is to remind people that everything that we say is our responsibility as individuals and as residents of this municipality. We want to show other towns that Binalonan has good people; it is a good and safe place to stay.”

Guico confirmed that several locals had already been penalised under the new law, and shared his hopes that the crackdown would help improve productivity. The rules have so far been extended to seven neighbourhoods in Binalonan; in Moreno, the first to introduce the offence, fines start at 500 pesos.

“We haven’t had to punish anyone for a second offence,” council leader Jovelyn Manaois told Vice. “No one wants to be seen as a gossipmonger.”

Guico has denied that the law will stifle free speech, instead revealing it has been designed to protect residents from slander.

Published: May 1, 2019 12:56 PM

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