Congressman Winnie Castelo filed House Bill 5316 after student activists planked in the middle of busy Manila City streets to express support for jeepney (public utility vehicles) drivers striking against weekly oil price hikes. Castelo's anti-planking bill defines planking as follows:
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.
But instead of discouraging the plankers, the proposal only made planking even more popular among the public with critics even planking in front of Castelo's own office in Congress to mock the measure.
Tine, who was part of the group who planked in Congress, asks:
If Rep. Castelo was so concerned with safe planking then he should have filed a Safe Planking Act (not that this will work…self-regulation within the planking community would probably be better). And why target planking protests? Actually, it is safer to plank with a big group of people.
Youth groups condemn the measure for curtailing freedom of expression and its repressive proposal to draft a code of conduct for students joining protest actions.
The anti-planking bill is not only against planking as a protest form, it even restricts our students from staging protest actions. This definitely goes against the youth’s fundamental right to freedom of expression.
Blogger Tonyo Cruz reacts against the measure:
The drafting of the bill is a total waste of time and money of taxpayers. Castelo and his fellow legislators should instead waste no time in studying and adopting measures addressing the subject of the plunking protesters — warrantless oil price increases, abusive oil cartels and taxes on petroleum products.
Planking for a cause
A few months ago, planking protests were held against education budget cuts. A few days ago, thousands of students once again held massive plankings in various parts of the country as part of a weeklong nationwide campus strike against the cuts.
Contingents of the 10,000-strong march of public university students and teachers hold a mass planking in the Mendiola bridge leading to the Malacanang Presidential Palace. It could be one of the biggest planking protests in the world :
Teo Marasigan describes the mass planking protest:
Nag-planking sila papunta at nag-planking sila pagdating sa Mendiola. Dahil ginagawa nila ang tinutuligsa at sinisiraan ng mga nasa awtoridad, militante ang dating nila. Dahil marami sila, hindi sila mukhang nagkakatuwaan lang, kundi lumalabag, lumalaban.
The Facebook group “PLANK! For a Cause” was also created to encourage plankers to share planking photos that highlight a cause “to dramatize the militancy and creativity of the youth.” Some of the photos posted in the group includes that of human rights advocates plank for the release of all political prisoners in the country.
Another is that of activists planking to commemorate the 39th anniversary of the declaration of Martial Law by the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos.
Some reactions to the anti-planking bill on Twitter:
@planetchuckie: The Anti-Planking Act of 2011 is even more useless and absurd than the act of planking itself.
@teddycasino: An anti-planking law? Ano ito, in observance of d anniversary of martial law? This is equivalent to Marcos’ banning of Voltes 5 and Daimos.
@gangbadoy: @radikalchick sinusubukan kong hanapan ng deeper meaning, pero alas…alaws! Apir, Winnie the Plank.
@choihilario: Or a new game “Plank Vs. Zombies ” RT @kakanturing: RT @gangbadoy: Winnie the Plank. :) > That sounds like a good idea for a new…
@venzie: Sinong mga kongresista at senador ang willing na makiplank sa mga iskolar ng bayan bukas sa Mendiola? Game.
@maxenemagalona: There's an anti-planking law? Plank that. Plank you.