'Anti-planking' law proposed in Philippines

A congressman in the Philippines is seeking to ban "planking" — the act of laying face down on the ground like a wooden plank — after a group of student protesters disrupted traffic in Manila on Monday.

Protesters put themselves in danger using the fad for political reasons: congressman

Protesters lie prone on the pavement to do a planking, blocking briefly the traffic at a busy roundabout in Manila, Philippines, Monday. (Bullit Marquez/Associated Press)

A congressman in the Philippines is seeking to ban "planking" after a group of students disrupted traffic in Manila on Monday.

Planking involves lying straight and face-down, like a plank of wood, in interesting or unexpected places. The trend has spread like wildfire over the internet, with most participants simply doing it for fun.

The Filipino students, however, were political plankers. Filipino news agency Sun Star reported that the group stalled traffic along Espana road in Sampaloc, Manila, on Monday in an act of protest against rising oil prices.

On the heels of the demonstration, Quezon City representative Winston Castelo filed a bill to ban planking as a means of protest. He argued participants are risking their lives and limbs, according to the Sun Star.

The Sun Star quoted Castelo as stating "parents and teachers have reason to be alarmed" if these protests bring "warm and living bodies" to lie down on street highways "as though they were offerings to the gods."

Castelo warned that disrupting traffic in this way could be dangerous, and argued that the best solution was to prohibit planking, reported the Sun Star. In one high profile incident, an Australian man plunged to his death after planking on a balcony in May.

But Castelo seemed more concerned over the political twist on the fad, which he said could influence children as well as people outside of the Philippines.

His proposed legislation, as posted on his official website, states the act should be enacted as a universal code of student conduct that strictly prohibits planking "as a form of redress of grievance" during street rallies or protests. He recommends "appropriate sanctions" and specifically target "bona fide" students, whether they attend universities or elementary schools. 

"This picture read in newspapers or posted in the internet might evolve into a new mindset that just might go viral or very contagious," Castelo said, according to the Star Sun. "Let it be nipped in the bud."

Local police authorities also threatened the planking protesters. The Manila Police District said future planking sessions may be broken up and participants detained, especially if they pose a danger to others, according to GMA News.

But the reactions of social media users were more sarcastic and disparaging than fearful.

"The Philippines is going through a lot right now and an anti-planking act of 2011 is what we get? C'mon ..." tweeted Gerald Galang, echoing a popular sentiment of frustration.

The phrase anti-planking act of 2011, named after Castelo's proposed legislation, continued to trend among Filipino twitter users on Tuesday.

"The anti-planking act of 2011 is even more useless and absurd than the act of planking itself," tweeted Chuckie C. Chavez.

Adding to the latter tweet, Tim Yap quipped, "I'll plank to that." 

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