A three-hour drive north of the Philippine capital Manila, local leaders have drawn a line in the sand against a swelling tide of scuttlebutt and innuendo.
They outlawed gossip.
In a world awash with fake news and online rumors, more than half a dozen neighborhoods in Binalonan have introduced an anti-gossip ordinance to put an end to too much idle chitchat. Town Mayor Ramon Guico III says the worst time is during the summer, when the scorching heat pushes people to huddle beneath the broad branches of century-old acacia trees, sipping soft drinks or munching on snacks in the shade.
“That’s how it starts,” he complains.
The chin-wagging usually revolves around who might be cheating on their spouse or running up debts. Facebook and messaging apps worsened the problem, but Mr. Guico says the really damaging stuff is gossip— the sort of thing your mother might have warned you about…
The first offense starts with a fine of 500 pesos, or around $10, followed by an embarrassing afternoon spent picking up trash.