In the Philippines, professional fortune-telling is a criminal act.

Today I received a message from Sulit.com.ph about an ad I recently posted that they removed:

Upon further evaluation by our team along with our legal advisers we were able to confirm that the ad/services provided are not in accordance with the Philippine Law Art. 318. Other deceits and it is due to this that we are obligated to comply by taking down the said advertisements.

The ad (which Sulit did not bother to identify) was advertising tarot reading services for events, parties and social gatherings emphasizing tarot reading as entertainment.

The Hanged Man from the 'Gringonneur' or 'Charles VI' Tarot

I looked up the Revised Penal Code article mentioned in their response. Below is the text of Article 318:

Revised Penal Code Article 318 – Other deceits

The penalty of arresto mayor and a fine of not less than the amount of the damage caused and not more than twice such amount shall be imposed upon any person who shall defraud or damage another by any other deceit not mentioned in the preceding articles of this chapter.

Any person who, for profit or gain, shall interpret dreams, make forecasts, tell fortunes, or take advantage of the credulity of the public in any other similar manner, shall suffer the penalty of arresto mayor or a fine not exceeding 200 pesos.

I’m not a lawyer, but isn’t Sulit.com.ph’s interpretation of the law too harsh?

Sulit seems to assume that someone who advertises for paid fortune telling services automatically intends to defraud someone. Sulit seems to consider professional fortune tellers and people who engage in similar professions will always maliciously take advantage of the credulity of the public.

Act No. 3815 or the Revised Penal Code of the Philippines was enacted on December 8, 1930. It defines and penalizes acts that are considered criminal in the country. The Code remains in effect until today.

The archaic-sounding term arresto mayor is a penalty of imprisonment from one month and one day to six months.

Unless there are other laws that negate Article 318, this means that all activities similar to fortune telling and dream interpretations for profit are considered criminal acts in the Philippines.

I will give Sulit.com.ph the benefit of the doubt and consider this as their means of protecting themselves from possible legal prosecution, especially the way laws are used in this country. However, this also makes me question whether I still want to use the services of Sulit for other, non-tarot-related advertisement listings.

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