In line with the transport holiday staged last Monday in the Philippines wherein members of the League of Filipino Students “planked” in the middle of the busy street of Espanya that caused heavy traffic and irritated motorists, Quezon City Representative Winston “Winnie” Castelo has filed a bill called the Anti-Planking Act of 2011.
Under the proposed Anti-Planking Act of 2011, Castelo proposed the creation of a universal Code of Student Conduct “where planking as a form of redress of grievance be strictly prohibited and appropriate sanctions be applied for violations thereof.” The proposal for the bill came after the representative became worried as a parent and feared that the act will be a “template” to imitate during protests.
“I was also a UP (University of the Philippines) student and I sympathize with them. It is normal to air their grievances and I welcome that as a lawmaker. However, as a parent, we have to see to it that their lives are protected as well. If you have plankers in the middle of the street, it will disrupt traffic. While we recognize their right to express themselves, you have to respect the rights of the riding public” he told abs-cbnNEWS.com. He also said Congress will also need to determine what sanctions could be imposed on ordinary citizens who conduct planking protests.
However, Castelo said the bill will not prohibit the constitutional right of freedom of expression since it only seeks to ensure the safety of protesters. The congressman is also not keen on punishing “plankers” who conduct their protests on sidewalks or areas where they will not be put in danger.
“As long as there is no disruption to the public, I think we will liberal about that. As I mentioned, I am more inclined to (allow them to) air their grievances than curtail their freedom,” he said.
Meanwhile, campus-based youth groups on Tuesday criticized Castelo’s proposed anti-planking bill, calling the proposal “ridiculous and anti-democratic”.
“This is a cheap attempt at publicity and with the sole intention of abridging the rights of the youth to freely express themselves. The Anti-Planking bill is very anti-democratic and definitely ridiculous.” said Carl Reyes, Sanlakas Youth spokesperson.
Jico Santos, chairperson of UP Diliman-based student group KAISA, added, “These politicians should instead get themselves busy in crafting laws that will ensure the exercise of the people’s rights like the Freedom of Information and Reproductive Health bills. Planking is covered by our freedom of expression. Cong. Castelo, wala namang basagan ng trip.”
Social media users such as Facebook and Twitter also raised eyebrows about the possible bill stating a general sentiment that the government should focus on important house bills such as the Right of Information Bill and the controversial Reproductive Health Bill.
The sections of the propsed Anti-Planking Act of 2011 are as follows:
AN ACT PRESCRIBING A UNIVERSAL CODE OF STUDENT CONDUCT WHEREBY PLANKING BY A STUDENT OR GROUP OF STUDENTS DURING STREET RALLIES OR SIMILAR PROTEST ACTIONS AS A FORM OF REDRESS OF GRIEVANCE BE STRICTLY PROHIBITED AND APPLYING APPROPRIATE SANCTIONS THEREOF
September 20th, 2011
Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the Philippines in Congress assembled:
SECTION 1. This Act shall be known as the “Anti-Planking Act of 2011″.
SEC. 2. A universal Code of Student Conduct is hereby prescribed where planking as a form of redress of grievance be strictly prohibited and appropriate sanctions be applied for violations thereof.
SEC. 3. 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.
SEC. 4 Every bonafide student from any school, college or university shall conduct himself with high degree of discipline and propriety.
SEC. 5. The Department of Education in the case of elementary and high school students and the Commission on Higher Education in the case of college students shall draft a universal Code of Student Conduct to carry out the provisions of this Act.
Further, DepEd and CHED, respectively shall issue appropriate rules and regulations to effectively carry out intent and purpose of this Act.
SEC. 6. This Act shall take effect ninety (90) days after its publication in the Official Gazette and in at least three (3) newspapers of general circulation.