Some jokes are worth jail time-A A +A
By Nef Luczon
Monday, August 19, 2013
THE recent bombing incident in Cagayan de Oro City could not be a reason to cancel this year’s sought-after Kagay-an Festival, perhaps most of Kagay-anons would not let it happen since this is based on the Catholic festivity in celebration of the feast day of St. Augustine, who has been the patron saint way back in colonial times when it was then Cagayan de Misamis (I stand corrected if there are inaccuracies in my history telling).
The bloody incident should not dampen the enthusiasm of many people who are expecting the long holidays (and not to mention the national holidays that add to the joy of students and some workers alike), after all, some people need to get out from their computer desks and instead try hard pretending to be a scholarly expert on grammar constructions (and English language) hiding in fictitious names over the internet, we should need to feel the warmth of the sun sometimes and flex some muscles.
While heading to the inevitable, and hopefully lively and wonderful festival, maybe we should also expect that military and police personnel will be there to keep watch of the peace and order. And you can always help maintain it by doing your part.
Since the government is cautious on threats of displeasing events to happen (God forbids) like bomb scares, please NEVER, ever, make bomb jokes or even sharing false alarms about it or otherwise it will cause you legal consequences.
Maybe you have heard or read news stories about people being apprehended and charged by police authorities just because they unwittingly make fun that their bags contained “bombs” while they were subjected for security inspection, well, authorities were not joking on this too.
Under the Presidential Decree no. 1727, which was signed by then President Ferdinand Marcos, anyone who make bomb jokes or any false threats “by word of mouth or through the use of the mail, telephone, telegraph, printed materials and other instrument or means of communication,” will be punished up to five years in prison and will be fined for up to P40,000. That’s still a large amount up to this day.
If we bring it to the modern context, the line “other instrument or means of communication” may be applicable to text messaging through mobile phones and the use of internet.
Even policies and laws have a history to tell, too. The decree was a response “in the wake of recent bombings, arsons and other terroristic acts committed by radicals and other lawless elements in the country, such radical and lawless elements, and other persons popularly known or described as ‘pranksters.’” By this, you will have a hint on the country back then during the Martial Law years or during the reign of Marcos.
Many fell on this simple mistake just because they thought it’s "cool" to act a little mischievous deed by flirting with the simple rules.
Personally, if I wasn’t been assigned to cover justice beat (which means scouring legal cases in the courts for news stories) as my first area of assignment as a "virgin" news reporter, I would also have not known that bomb jokes can be a serious offense, and then realizing that this isn’t anymore a childish war-game where you can freely shout with your playmates “there’s a bomb inside,” and “fire it in the hole.”
(Read: nefoi.blogspot.com, Comment: firstname.lastname@example.org)
Published in the Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro newspaper on August 19, 2013.