Unfriending duties

LOOKING ASKANCE - Atty. Joseph Gonzales - The Freeman

Dear friends - you may soon have a new obligation!

Friendship comes with many things - shared experiences, enriching encounters, and if they’re lucky, lifelong relationships. There are also betrayals whether over small things like divulging secrets shared intimately, or major issues, like stealing husbands or seducing kids. But this piece isn’t about those - it’s about the obligations attached to friendship.

Most of the obligations expected from our friends are undefined. Or unexpressed. Certainly, none of them are legal, in the sense that if one doesn’t act like a good friend, there’s no court case to be filed. One is just demoted from good friend to bad friend, or perhaps ghosted or blacklisted.

With the new developments in the Christine Dacera case, however, those undefined friendship obligations seem to be getting some heft and shape.

According to the National Bureau of Investigation, speaking through agent Zulikha Marie Conales-Degamo, a friend has an obligation to get medical assistance for friends in need. She says if a person sees a friend vomiting and with a headache, that person should give the friend “medicine or seek immediate assistance.” If not, then that failure is an “omission to give proper prudence and diligence required of you - in that time and place, you failed to give that - that diligence, that prudence, you are liable under the law”.

Because of this supposed obligation, those gay friends partying with her, and who woke up to a dying or dead Dacera, now face a criminal case for “reckless imprudence resulting in homicide”. Yikes!

The theory is, during those moments when Dacera was slurring, or when the occupants of Room 2207 were already telling Dacera’s friends in Room 2009 to come get her, those friends should have stopped trying to have a good time, and instead, focused on getting medical attention.

It’s a novel theory formulated by the NBI, and let’s see how it holds up in court. That legal concept of “diligence” is ever-evolving, and we will see what our judges think of the proposition that when we make new friends, we also owe them this legal obligation.

Of course, that first option of supplying medicine to a friend will probably be discarded by the judiciary. This may come across as akin to prescribing and dispensing medicine without proper medical training - which just might lead to another criminal case.

If the courts agree with the NBI, that may lead me to whittle down my list of friends. First off will be the Neurotic Nellies, the hypochondriacs. I speak of acquaintances (I’ve demoted them already) who whine and complain about small aches and phantom pains. With these best actress nominees, you never really know whether something is really wrong, or they just want attention.

Second will be the Prickly Patties, or the combative or litigious friends, who may end up suing you for your failure to be attentive. Take your adoring gaze away from them for a second, and you’re toast.

Third, will be the Self-centered Sues, who won’t do the same for you when you’re in trouble, because it’s all about them. If this is the deal, what’s the point of being a good friend to them, right? So scratch the Sues out.

Lastly, the Karens we didn’t know we had in our midst. Who’s left? Well, the friends who will gracefully age with you, hopefully.

This NBI theory is intensely clarifying. Perhaps, for these benefits, it should be upheld by the courts. If it sticks, though, might there be another theory that, if we didn’t unfriend certain categories of people, we therefore acknowledge we would take care of them in times of need?

Witness the birth of a new legal obligation to unfriend. Such a complicated world we live in.


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