Philippine lawmaker Arnolfo Teves Jr proposes bill to punish ghosting

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MANILA — A Philippine lawmaker wants “ghosting” — the act of abruptly severing communication without explanation — to be declared an emotional offence.

Arnold Teves Jr, member of the Nationalist Popular Coalition who is allied with the ruling administration, says “ghosting is a form of grudge that develops feelings of rejection and neglect”, which should be considered an abusive act.

The proposed bill, which was introduced last month but shared publicly this week, does not suggest any punishment, although it does specify that the act “should be punished”.

The proposal has sparked amusement on social media – but also criticism that it is a distraction as the country faces a cost of living crisis.

In the document titled “An Act Declaring Ghosting an Emotional Offense”, Teves asserts that ghosting is a widespread form of cruelty in today’s world. He says that thanks to technology, “the dating field has changed exponentially from previous years”, which means people can easily cut ties with each other – regardless of the feelings of the other person.

“The ambiguity with ghosting is that there is no real closure between the parties involved and as such it can be likened to a form of emotional cruelty,” states the explanatory note to the draft. law.

Ghosting, Teves says, is a “mentally, physically and emotionally draining” act for victims. The bill also notes that ghosting can lead to “ridicule” and “humiliation” and that victims are likely to suffer emotional turmoil as a result of being ghosted by another person.

Those who have been ghosts in their lifetime say the phenomenon is cruel and disconcerting. Experts say those who are guilty of ghosting do so for a number of reasons, from fear of having difficult conversations, to feeling that the other person might react dangerously, to believing that it’s nicer than an outright rejection.

We asked for your ghost stories. Here they are.

It is unlikely that the bill, in its current form at least, will pass. In the absence of sanctions described, it is not clear whether the proposal will have legal effects. For a bill to pass, it must pass three readings and garner the support of Congress and the Senate. Many proposals languish or are forgotten, especially if they are not considered a priority.

On social media, reaction to the proposed bill has been mixed. While some found the proposal entertaining, others stressed that government officials should focus on more pressing issues such as inflation – which hit its highest level in nearly four years in the Philippines last month.

“The internal bill creating the Ghostbusters Department is next,” read a comment on Facebook. Another pointed out that there are “bigger problems in our country today”.

Political scientist Arj Aguirre, who works in the political science department at the University of Manila, was also among those who noted that the bill could be an attempt to distract from the broader issues facing the country. , including the consequences of the coronavirus pandemic and the cost of living crisis.

In a statement to The Washington Post on Tuesday, Aguirre accused Teves of using the bill “to garner public attention and media mileage.”

“It’s a calculated decision to make it popular and be part of the public conversation,” Aguirre said, adding that Teves had a habit of sparking public debate with controversial proposals.

Teves did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Earlier this month, Teves proposed renaming Manila’s Ninoy Aquino International Airport in honor of late dictator Ferdinand E. Marcos, whose two-decade rule saw tens of thousands of human rights abuses man and plundered the country up to 10 billion dollars. Benigno Aquino Jr, the current namesake, was an opposition senator critical of Marcos who was assassinated at the airport upon his return from the United States.

The bill has been widely criticized by survivors of martial law and interpreted as an attempt to curry favor with newly appointed President Ferdinand Marcos Jr., who won a landslide election last May.

Hassan reported from London.

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