MANILA, Philippines—Filipino citizens who refuse to stand at attention and sing the national anthem will be slapped with a fine of up to P100,000 and/or imprisonment of two years.
These and other instances of desecration of the flag, the national anthem and other heraldic items of the country are considered criminal offenses under House Bill No. 465, otherwise known as “An Act Prescribing the Code of the National Flag, Anthem, Motto, Coat-of-Arms and other Heraldic Items and Devices of the Philippines.”
The House of Representatives passed on Wednesday HB 465, which seeks to amend the Flag and Heraldic Code of the Philippines (RA 8491).
HB 465 increases the penalty—which currently stands at P5,000 to not more than P20,000—to P50,000 but not more than P100,000.
Increased jail term
The bill also increases the jail term from one to two years.
Such fine and imprisonment, or both, can be imposed at the discretion of the court.
The bill principally authored by Sorsogon Rep. Salvador Escudero III empowers the security personnel and ushers in moviehouses to arrest violators and summon law enforcement officers to assist in conducting a citizen’s arrest.
The bill, if enacted, also gives more teeth to the prohibition on having various interpretations of the national anthem, “Lupang Hinirang,” which deviates from the musical arrangement of the composer Julian Felipe.
Using the Philippine flag and other heraldic items and devices as an advertising tool for political or private purposes, and as clothing or fashion accessory other than prescribed shall also be prohibited, the bill says.
The chamber promptly passed the bill after Escudero, chair of the House Committee on Basic Education and Culture, sponsored Committee Report 148, which contained the consolidated
measure seeking to protect the national anthem, the Philippine flag and other heraldic items and devices.
HB 465 is a consolidated version of House bills 603 and 465 authored by Reps. Escudero, Rufus B. Rodriguez and Maximo B. Rodriguez Jr.
“Congress has given more teeth to government’s campaign to invigorate respect, patriotism and love of country, instilling in the citizens’ consciousness the nation’s history and, as a nation, a reminder to continuously struggle for justice, equality and freedom which the national flag, anthem, motto, coat-of-arms, and other heraldic items and devices signify,” Escudero said in the bill’s explanatory note.
Escudero said the respect accorded on the national symbols formed a basis of good citizenship, and must be reiterated and strengthened.
Escudero explained that the measure intended to polish the conceptual outline of the law for clarity.
“The bill now has more teeth. It aims to update the law in the light of contemporary changes in attitudes and idioms,” he said.
The measure also requires all citizens to stand at attention and sing with fervor, as a sign of respect, when the national anthem is played at a public gathering, he said.
The measure also requires all government and private offices as well as Filipino residences to display the Philippine flag from May 28, the National Flag Day, to June 12, the Independence Day of each year, declaring the period as Flag Days.
The bill asks the National Heritage Institute to be responsible for the strict enforcement of the measure.
Michael Lim Ubac, Phil. Daily Inquirer