The Filipino Town Where Gossiping is a Crime (and the Punishment is Litter Picking!)

The Filipino Town Where Gossiping is a Crime (and the Punishment is Litter Picking!)

Would you stop gossiping about your neighbours if you thought you’d be fined and forced to pick up litter if you got caught? That’s the fate of people in a town in the Philippines who get caught spreading rumours.

The residents of Binalonan, just north of Manila, are fined $10 and forced to pick up litter if they are seen gossiping in a move introduced by the town’s mayor ahead of their local elections.

Mayor: Gossiping is a ‘waste of time’

The mayor said that gossiping is a waste of time, and he believes the ban will improve the quality of life in the town. He added the gossiping is rife in the summer, because people take shelter from the heat under trees and stand and chat, inevitably about scandals like who has been cheating, or who is in debt.



Nobody has been punished for a second offence

For a first gossiping offence, residents are fined $10 and they have to spend an afternoon picking litter. It’s the responsibility of a local council leader to decide on the penalties that each offender will be given. She said she has not had to punish anyone for a second offence so far and added that’s because nobody wants to be seen as a gossip.

One resident was given a warning when he was caught spreading rumours about a family that was apparently in debt. He said that he did not start the rumour, but was only repeating what he had heard from someone else. The council leader said that anyone spreading rumours is punished, not just those who start them.

Another council boss said he agrees with the ban and added that many cases of gossiping are about conflicts around money and property, and so disputes could be settled by the parties instead amicably, instead of opening up the situation to rumours and gossiping.

If you were fined for gossiping, how much would you owe by now, and how many afternoons would you have been picking litter for?