Written by Romha Berhane

The Philippines is a beautiful country with an abundance of culture and sights. When you are visiting make sure that you aware of the local laws and customs of the Philippines to ensure a hassle free trip. For example, there is an ‘unjust vexation law’ which means that you can be imprisoned for up to 30 days or fined 200 pesos for annoying somebody! Despite being quite a vague and seemingly bizarre law, it is a law nonetheless and one of many.  

1. Drug laws- in order to avoid any unnecessary trouble with law enforcement- stay clear of any drugs or anyone associated with them. Philippine drug laws are extremely harsh and have lengthy mandatory sentences attached to them. Even more severely you can get the death penalty if you are assumed to be a drug trafficker. The ‘drug war’ in the Philippines is very much ongoing- and police and authorities have been publicly advised to kill drug traffickers who resist arrest.

2. Offending religious feeling- despite being an old law- it is important to be aware when travelling to the Philippines that it is a very Catholic country and you should avoid making any inflammatory comments. There has been a case of a tour guide being sentenced to jail for protesting outside a Catholic Church. Furthermore, The Philippines Bureau of Immigration has stated that foreign nationals should avoid public protests and political rallies. Any foreigners who do take part in the above activities could be detained and deported.

3. Correct documentation- Before you set off on your trip make sure you have the correct documents.

Since November 2015, according to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO), British passports are no longer needed to have a minimum period of 6 months validity from the date of your arrival. However, ensure that if you are travelling from elsewhere that it has. Your passport should still be valid for the proposed duration of your stay.

You could potentially be denied entry if you do not have proof of a return ticket, or some form of onward travel.

You can actually enter the Philippines without a visa for 30 days. Or you can get a tourist visa that will allow you a stay of 59 days.  

Make sure that you have the right documentation however, as overstaying is an extremely grievous offence that can lead to paying a fine or detention.

4. Anti-Singit Law- one of the more obscure Philippine laws is the anti-Singit Law. This law is designed to stop people pushing in front of others in lines. Even though queue cutters are often irritating, in the Philippines this is an offence that may result in someone being imprisoned for up to 30 days or fined up to 5,000 pesos. So it may be wiser to exercise a little patience whilst in line to avoid any punishment.

5. The Revised Penal Code- As part of their penal code- there is a segment called ‘Grave Scandal’- this section of the law can be used to reprimand someone for overt signs of public affection, as well as being used as a way to penalise same-sex couples. So it is best to keep PDA to a minimum just in case.

Before you set off to the Philippines, pay a visit to the FCO site and look out for any new laws to ensure that your trip to the Philippines is as peaceful and amazing as possible.

Have a look at what Prisoners Abroad does to help people keep up to date with changing local laws and customs.