House Approves First Bill on Flag, Anthem
By RIO ROSE RIBAYA
MANILA, Philippines — The pressure to sing the national anthem correctly has just gotten more intense even before the camp of world boxing champion Manny Pacquiao picks out an artist, who will render “Lupang Hinirang” before thousands of boxing enthusiasts at the Cowboy Stadium when he fights Antonio Margarito in Dallas, Texas, on November 13.
The House of Representatives approved a bill criminalizing the improper singing of the national anthem and disrespect to other national symbols on third and final reading on Monday. This will be sent to the Bicameral Conference Committee to be reconiled with the Senate version.
A total of 196 lawmakers, who were present in the first session for budget sponsorships and deliberations that started on Monday morning, voted in favor of the House Bill No. 465, also 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.
Before discussing the P1.6 trillion proposed national budget for 2011, the Lower Chamber tackled all the pending bills after the sponsorship speech of House appropriations committee chairman Rep Jose Emilio Abaya in a morning session.
Under the proposed measure, a P100,000 fine and two-year imprisonment await the performer, who will deviate from the official musical arrangement of “Lupang Hinirang” as composed by Julian Felipe.
“Lupang Hinirang should be sung in a marching-type tempo, within the range of 100 to 120 metronome, in 4/4 beat and 2/4 beat when played,” the bill stated.
Filipino popular singers like Journey vocalist Arnel Pineda, Martin Nievera and all-female group La Diva were criticized for their mainstream rendition of the national anthem during the previous fights of Pacquiao.
The bill also proposes sanctions to moviegoers caught not “standing up with fervor as a sign of respect” when the national anthem is being played in cinemas should the measure becomes a law, empowering security personnel and ushers to arrest violators and summon law enforcement officers to assist in conducting citizens’ arrest.
Sorsogon Rep. Salvador Escudero III, chairman of the House Committee on Basic Education and Culture, earlier said the proposed measure will give the government more teeth to invigorate respect, patriotism and love of country, instilling in the citizens’ consciousness the nation’s history.
He added that the proposal will serve as 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.
The measure also prohibits “the use of 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 what is prescribed.”
“The National flag, anthem, seal, motto, coat-of-arms, and other heraldic items and devices are not to be mutilated, defaced, defiled, or trampled on… Anyone who shows contempt or commits any act or omission casting dishonor or ridicule on heraldic items will also be held liable under the law,” the bill stated.
“The flag may be used to cover the casket of the honored dead of the military, veterans, national artists, and of civilians who have rendered distinguished service to the nation, as maybe determined by the local government unit concerned, but not to be lowered to the grave or touch the ground,” it added.
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.