Thoughtless Extravagance in the Philippines: When Money May Becomes Money May-Not

by: JD Garcia (Photo screengrab: Youtube/FightHubTV)

It’s the first of its kind. A fight between two of the most well-known combat athletes of today. Floyd “Money” Mayweather versus “The Notorious” Conor McGregor. Each, a highly decorated and celebrated fighter in his respective sport. Not only are they famous for their skills, their boisterous attitudes and antics outside the ring/cage, but perhaps, even more so, for their love of big pay days.

The promotional tour for Mayweather vs. McGregor has been nothing short of entertaining. Apart from the name-calling, the unruly barbs and the colorful outfits, Floyd and Conor have not been shy with how much they would each make from this fight. Conor himself has claimed that this fight would quadruple his net worth.

And Floyd, well, he is called “Money.” But if you want to see how much he loves dough (not the kind of dough that I like, the one that ends in nut), just look at his Instagram account. He has absolutely no shame in flaunting his wealth.

As we see this kind of unabashed display of wealth, one’s social conscience might ask, isn’t there something wrong with this? I mean, you have on the one hand children dying of hunger, people being thrown out of their homes and the sick not having the money to pay for medicine, and on the other, you have this professional fighter throwing money in the air and making it rain on his opponent.

I do believe that money paid to athletes, especially fighters, are well-earned and no one has the right to tell them how to spend (or waste) their money. Nevertheless, when you see people literally burn money in front of the entire public, with no apparent logical reason (other than to show how rich he is), it seems distasteful and inconsiderate.

But is there something wrong with such acts? Morally? Arguably, yes. What about legally? Does the law say anything about this? Interestingly enough, there is a little-known article in our Civil Code that says: “Thoughtless extravagance in expenses for pleasure or display during a period of acute public want or emergency may be stopped by order of the courts at the instance of any government or public charitable institution” (Article 25, Civil Code of the Philippines). If we break this down, what it says is that: (1) there is an outlandish display (i.e., thoughtless extravagance) of wealth; (2) such display is done during a time where there is a public emergency; and (3) this can be stopped at the order of the government. Simply put, this is the law acting like Dikembe Mutombo waving his finger saying “No, no, no!” whenever someone flaunts his/her wealth while the country is suffering.

Dikembe is the embodiment of Article 25, Civil Code.

Ferdinand Marcos actually used this provision when he issued an order prohibiting elective local officials from holding lavish fiestas and social gathering (General Order No. 15, 1972). Aside from this, this particular article of the Civil Code has been barely used. In fact, one would be hard pressed to find a Supreme Court case on this matter. If there was, it would have given us guidance on how this provision of the Civil Code should be interpreted and/or implemented. Nevertheless, what this shows us is that the people who crafted the law are sensitive to the plight of the public and those in a better position must be considerate of that. It’s a good example of a law where the Filipino tradition of “pakikisama” is exemplified.

At this point, some of you are already thinking: so you’re telling me that I can stop my frenemy (who I secretly hate but constantly stalk on Instagram) from posting her travel photos? Well, considering that there is martial law now in Mindanao (public want or emergency) and your frenemy is posting her new Hermes bag on Instagram (thoughtless extravagance? Or just extravagance?), you could theoretically go to the court or any government institution and try to convince them to stop her evil ways. Theoretically.

So what have we learned, kids? (1) the law is a wonderful place filled with weird stuff, (2) it is not unlikely that traditional Filipino ideals have influenced the way our laws are crafted, and (3) just unfollow your frenemy (unless you have wads of cash and time to burn to file a complaint. But then, would that not be thoughtless extravagance? Mind-blown).

JD Garcia is an editor of  Batas Sportiva. He can probably dunk on Dikembe.


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