OPINION: Charivari

Tin Bartolome

Posted at Feb 03 2017 10:05 PM

Did you know that if you are a night person, love to sing and you own a karaoke unit, you can be fined up to two hundred pesos or imprisoned for up to thirty days? That is, if you turn up the volume loud enough to disturb your neighbors and worse, if you sing out of tune at unholy hours! 

Charivari means “making noise” and, according to Article 155 of the Revised Penal Code, anyone who actively participates in such an activity thereby disturbing his neighbors has criminal liability. [charivari. (n.d.) Burton’s Legal Thesaurus, 4E. (2007). Retrieved February 1 2017 from http://legal-dictionary.thefreedictionary.com/charivari]

Noisy Neighbors

Though I knew the term already, there has hardly been any use for it for me except when we lived in a government housing unit on the outskirts of UP Campus. This was the time a neighbor sang "Don’t Cry for Me Argentina" (from Evita) over and over from ten to ten!

Another food park in our area opened recently—it’s actually the third on that street and it’s just a few houses away from us. Their opening night featured music and food and when we dropped by, I was horrified to see that the open space actually exposed the houses nearby to whatever sounds were emitted by diners and musicians.

Last night, as I did a quick wash of our table-runner at the back of the house, I heard singing and shouting, obviously from the same place. I remembered the young couple whose toddler and their neighbor, who had two young students in grade school, who could not sleep whenever there was activity in that place.

Other Disturbances

While it is true that everyone has the right to use their property any way they want as long as the activity is legal, this does not include the right to make noise. Alarms and Scandals and Tumults and other Disturbances of Public order are two Revised Penal Code articles—meaning they are criminal acts that have corresponding fines and penalties. 

Disturbing neighbors is illegal!

Interestingly, the last paragraph of Article 153 (Tumults and other disturbances of public order) says that the same penalty applies to persons who violate the last clause of Article 85, referring to those who “shall bury with pomp the body of a person who has been legally executed.”

The Secret Burial

This stirred negative emotions anew, reminding me of the secret burial—not of a legally-executed person but of a known murderer, plunderer, dictator and a “great” legal mind—one that enabled him to stay in power for a very long time!

If we look at the spirit of the law, these provisions protect us from inconsiderate people who offend common sensibilities. It’s not every day that a despot holds on to power for decades and it’s not every day either that cemeteries like the Libingan ng Mga Bayani are rendered off limits to the public only because of his burial. The family practically stole the show by not allowing people to witness the burial—yes, a burial with pomp—or should I say military honors.

What I really want to suggest is that public disturbance, whether because one sings out of tune, creates trouble, or commits any one of those acts described by the provisions of the Revised Penal Code should now include “stealing” a space at the Libingan ng Mga Bayani. 

It may not fall under the definition of charivari, but it sure is just as disturbing!

Disclaimer: The views in this blog are those of the blogger and do not necessarily reflect the views of ABS-CBN Corp.