Philippines: Planking ban lawmaker gets planked
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Philippines: Planking ban lawmaker gets planked

A member of the House of Representatives has filed a measure outlawing “planking” by students, after activists planked to express support for a transport workers’ strike.

Congressman Winnie Castelo’s House Bill 5316 drew very critical reactions, both online and offline.

Mocking Castelo, critics did not lose time to express their opposition to the bill by, what else, planking in many areas inside the House of Representatives, including in front of Castelo’s own office.

According to Castelo’s bill:

Under this Act, planking is when a student or group of students lies face down in unusual locations especially in streets or other public places, keeping the hands along the body and the feet outstretched and especially where such act is meant as a form of redress of grievance against government.

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Planking, which a congressman wants outlawed, goes to the Philippines Congress. (Photo from Tine Sabillo's blog.)

Castelo did not just go ballistic over planking, but over planking that’s critical against government. The message here is in bad taste twice over. Why pick on planking? Why pick on planking that’s critical of government?

In a statement, Castelo explained:

The parent in me tells me that this precedent in the case of the this massive transport strike where militant street protesters who are students of various schools have to lie down or serve as ‘planks’ across the road to disrupt what should be normal traffic could just be very dangerous in the future. Life and limb are pretty much at risks here were unbelieving bus drivers or law enforcement authorities might just ram through these warm and living bodies rolled out on highways.

Many saw hogwash in this explanation, and the actual bill.

The main problem with House Bill 5316 is that it trivializes the protests by students and transport workers. Why would Castelo assume that students and those who would choose to do some planking that they will do so to harm themselves? Is he saying that students are nutcases? Definitely not. The drafting of the bill is a total waste of time and money of taxpayers. Castelo and his fellow legislators should instead waste no time in studying and adopting measures addressing the subject of the plunking protesters — warrantless oil price increases, abusive oil cartels and taxes on petroleum products.

The bill is so outrageous that it is today’s worldwide trending topic on Twitter, bringing chuckles to countless netizens here and abroad. Of course, we Filipinos could only cover our faces in shame that one of our “honorable” legislators saw it fit to file such a bill titled “Anti-Planking Act of 2011”.

We do not know and cannot predict what Congress is out to dish out next. Maybe an Anti-Owling Act of 2011 – and that is very possible.