Philippines lawmaker submits bill to make ‘ghosting’ a punishable criminal offense

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Filipino lawmaker Arnolfo Teves Jr. proposed that the act of “ghosting” be declared a punishable emotional offense.

Teves, the Negros Oriental 3rd District representative and a member of the Nationalist People’s Coalition, argued that “ghosting is a form of spite that develops feelings of rejection and neglect,” making it an act of emotional cruelty.

Ghosting is the act of cutting all forms of communication with an individual, usually a romantic partner, without warning or explanation. The proposal defines ghosting as “a form of emotional abuse and happens once a person is engaged in a dating relationship with the opposite sex which affects the mental state of the victim.”

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The House Bill No. 611, also known as “An Act Declaring Ghosting as an Emotional Offense,” was filed by Teves on June 30. While Teves says the act should be punished, he did not suggest any penalties.

“The ambiguity with ghosting is that there is no real closure between the parties concerned and as such, it can be likened to a form of emotional cruelty and should be punished as an emotional offense because of the trauma it causes to the ‘ghosted’ party,” Teves wrote in the explanatory note of his proposed legislation.

While the proposal has sparked amusement and disbelief online, government officials were also criticized, with many Filipinos questioning their priorities amid greater national concerns such as inflation.

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Arjan Aguirre, an instructor at Ateneo de Manila University, told The Washington Post that the bill may be an attempt to distract the public from other pressing issues. Aguirre also believes that the bill is Teves’ way of getting “public attention and media mileage.”

“It is a calculative move to make him popular and be part of the public conversation,” Aguirre said.

The recent bill is not Teves’ first controversial legal proposal. Teves, who is allied with the current ruling administration of Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr., previously proposed to rename the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) to Ferdinand E. Marcos International Airport in honor of the late dictator and ousted president Ferdinand Marcos Sr.

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He incorrectly claimed that NAIA was built during the presidency of Marcos Sr. in his proposal, which was also widely criticized, with critics viewing the bill as an attempt to distort history and as Teves’ attempt to gain favor with the newly instated president.