By Farah G. Decano
I am now writing my column just after the occurrence of a magnitude 7.0 earthquake in Northern Luzon. Like any typical Filipino, I am helping myself cope with this devastating and stressful situation by finding humor in other issues which have caught national attention due to its significance or the lack thereof.
I found House Bill 611, “Declaring Ghosting as An Emotional Offense,” otherwise known as “Anti-Ghosting” bill, to pick on. While I acknowledge that the author may have the best of intentions in filing his legislative proposal, I found the same lacking in persuasion to justify state regulation of behaviors in private relationships.
I have read that the proposed law has no prescribed penalty and is a mere declaration that ghosting is an emotional abuse. This alone, however, does not make it objectionable. If the proposal becomes an enacted law, then it will find a narrow purpose through the application of Republic Act 9262 or the Anti-Violence Against Women and their Children Act of 2004. In the latter law, emotional abuse of women in intimate relationships are punishable, but it must first be proven. If the Anti-Ghosting bill is passed, then one only needs to prove the sudden abandonment of the romantic interest for one to be punished under RA 9262.
My objection is that the intended law suffers from overbreadth. It tends to consider ghosting, without any distinction, as merely persecutory in nature. It does not see other dimensions of ghosting. In certain cases, sudden desertion can be a symptom of a deep psychological issue between couples. In others, abandonment may also be caused by anxiety and maladjustment, and so forth.
The Anti-Ghosting Bill violates the equal protection clause of the Philippine Constitution since the protection that the bill offers is limited only to heterosexual individuals. Does Congressman Teves not want to protect women and men in homosexual relationships as well? These individuals can also experience “broken heart syndrome” same as those in so-called straight love relationships.
I have been discussing the same bill with a CPA-Lawyer. She banters that if she will find her congressman to be corrupt, arrogant, cruel to people, or an incompetent nincompoop, then she’d write more ridiculous bills to shame him or her.
We amused ourselves with the following made-up proposed legislative measures. These are really intended to be bizarre so please do not hesitate to find entertainment in them.
Anti-Online Flirtation Bill. This bill aims to regulate the conduct of courtship via the internet. Since flirtation clouds the judgment, provides opportunity for shameless self-promotion, and restricts the moral compass of two daters, this bill seeks to limit the topic of conversations between online chatters only to their opinion on politics, religion, and economics. Any attempt to compliment the other chatter regarding his/her looks and behavior shall be considered flirting. The limitation shall be lifted after accumulation of 100 hours of online chatting and only then can flirtation commence. Penalty: disconnection from social media and internet for three months. A repeat offense shall merit 6 months suspension from cyberspace;
Anti-Surprise and/or Lavish Engagement and/or Extravagant Wedding Celebration Bill. This aims to prohibit over the top wedding proposals that tend to pressure the recipient thereof to say yes to a lifetime of commitment. It is about time that the decision to marry should be mutually planned by two adults who want to take control of their lives. Surprise wedding proposals may not only be a disaster to the proponent (in the case where proposal is declined), but to the recipient as well, especially when the event is documented by photos and videos at the time when the recipient is not at his or her best form and would have preferred to be proposed to after losing excess weight. Surely, this could be traumatic for both parties. Likewise, costly weddings are covered by this prohibition to ensure that couples will not have gone bankrupt on the first day of their married life.
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