12 October 2012

Batangas City's Anti-Social Behaviour Ordinance

There was an interesting discussion in the regional news earlier this afternoon about an Anti-Social Behaviour Ordinance that is soon to be enforced by Batangas City. According to a city councillor who was interviewed live during the news show, the ordinance was published yesterday and should be enforceable in fifteen days.

Some of the provisions of the ordinance are what one can categorize as ‘about time.’ Others, however, fall under the category ‘I dunno.’ Since Lipa followed Batangas City’s plastic ban, if at all the local council decides to think up something similar, I hope it does so with caution.

The Batangas City councillor who was interviewed in the news said that the ordinance was drafted as a consequence of petty citizen complaints that local government could not really act upon because of the absence of any sort of legislation. Fair enough!


While I can understand and appreciate the thinking behind the provision, I am afraid that I also find this is as inane as legislation can get. Corollary to legislation always is enforcement; and it goes without saying that there is no point in creating one if it cannot be enforced.
Among the provisions of the ordinance that I think is only appropriate is the ban on spitting in public. I am not entirely sure; but I think the habit of clearing the throat and spitting out the sputum is an Asian thing. I understand a similar ban has been in place in Singapore from the time of Lee Kuan Yew’s presidency.

Whatever the case is, I think that there are few things more disgusting than sputum or phlegm on the concrete walkway. I personally do not mind people spitting on earth; but to distinguish between spitting on concrete and earth will only raise complications. A total spitting ban makes sense.

I also agree with a provision that aims to preserve peace in the community by banning drunken behaviour and excessive noise. I know karaoke and videoke are a favourite local form of entertainment; but trying to have a good time should not be at the expense of neighbours.

Anybody who has had to endure migraine induced by somebody in the neighbourhood singing off-tune all day long using a full-volume karaoke will appreciate this provision.

If being considerate of others has to be forced upon people by an ordinance, then so be it! In many countries, you will have the police knocking on your door if there is so much noise coming from your household.

There is one provision on public nakedness that I am not really sure about. I suppose this refers to men going around the neighbourhood naked from the waist up. Nudity is another thing which I think is already covered by national law.

But being half-naked? First of all, we are in the tropics; and our forebears went around the neighbourhood probably wearing so much less. Second, I always thought that the malice always resides in the mind of the one looking.

I have not seen the entire ordinance; so perhaps there is more to the provision than was flashed onscreen. Maybe qualifying the ban will help; such as when one is in the mall or other places where more appropriate attire is called for – and not that people actually go there half-naked.

But in one’s own neighbourhood?

The last provision that I recall is something that I really find amusing; and I pray nobody in Lipa thinks up something similar. It actually prohibits spreading gossip.

Seriously? Seriously!

While I can understand and appreciate the thinking behind the provision, I am afraid that I also find this is as inane as legislation can get. Corollary to legislation always is enforcement; and it goes without saying that there is no point in creating one if it cannot be enforced.

I mean, who does not?

But what do I really care? I live in Lipa, after all!

But you guys based in Batangas City, better think twice before indulging in everyone’s favourite pastime! If I heard things right, those found guilty can be fined up to five thousand pesos or imprisoned for up to a year.

I suggest you all find a copy of the ordinance and read it comprehensively.











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RELATED STORIES:
Plastic-less in Lipa
Month of May Blues

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