And so, we did it again.
The Philippines has created history by being the first country that proposed legislation specifically against planking. For those who are not familiar with it, "Planking" (or the "Lying Down Game") is an activity consisting of lying face down in an unusual or incongruous location. The hands must touch the sides of the body and having a photograph of the participant taken and posted on the internet is an integral part of the game. Players compete to find the most unusual and original location in which to play. The term planking refers to mimicking a wooden plank.
The Anti-Planking Act of 2011 was filed early this week in Congress by Quezon City Rep. Winston “Winnie” Castelo. This issue was actually trending worldwide on Twitter and has created a buzz all over the internet. The first time I saw the tweets from my friends, I thought that they were just making it up. Well I mean, seriously? A law against planking? To my horror, no one was joking after all.
Here’s a copy of the Anti-Planking Act of 2011:
"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."
Apparently, the bill was a reaction to the "planking sessions" staged by the League of Filipino students (LFS) during the transport strike last Monday along Espana road in Sampaloc, Manila, to show support for the protest against oil price hikes.
According to Rep. Winnie Castelo,
“Parents and teachers have reason to be alarmed if these similar protest actions will have as a scheme and scene otherwise warm and living bodies laid down across street highways as though they were offerings to the gods,”
“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” Castelo added.
First, I personally think that planking is pointless. Might as well do a real plank (the exercise). But I can't say for certain that I won't be trying it out soon. However, I see no harm in people doing it, so long as they do not affect other people, destroy the property of others, or harm anyone in the process, then plank all you want. Plank on your own risk.
Second, it is just plain absurd for our government to focus on such things, when there are so much more pressings issues that need attention. Like the reason why they are protesting in the first place? Why don't they focus on the budget cuts on education, rising oil prices, or fighting poverty? Plainly, this is a waste of time for Congress and a waste of taxpayer's money.
Third, if you read the contents of the law, what it says is that planking endangers the lives of people who do it during rallies and protest. I mean, seriously? What if they only protested without planking and instead lied down on the street. Isn't that equally dangerous? So now they can make an Anti-lying-down-on-the-road-while-protesting Act of 2011. I just don't get it why the issue is in the manner of protest, and why planking must be singled out.
Fourth, planking is a form of self-expression. The bill will therefore curtail the protesters right to freedom of expression safeguarded by no less that the Constitution. If protesters want to plank in order to air their grievances against the government, then let them. Not to mention that it also violates equal protection by singling out students. So if you are not a student, nothing precludes you from planking?
Thank you for giving another incentive for students to graduate.