SOURCE: Press and Public Affairs Bureau
The House of Representatives has approved on second reading House Bill 5224 seeking to strengthen the rules on the proper use and display of the country’s national symbols, including the Philippine flag, and the rendition of the national anthem.
The bill seeks to repeal Republic Act 8491, also known as the “Flag and Heraldic Code of the Philippines,” in light of contemporary changes in attitudes and idioms. It also aims to instill love of country and underscore the importance of complying with standard expressions of respect for the country’s national symbols.
Rep. Maximo Rodriguez, Jr. (2nd District, Cagayan de Oro City), a principal author of the bill, said despite the existence of RA 8491, many Filipinos do not accord the respect due the Philippine flag and the national anthem.
Rodriguez said RA 8491 provides that reverence and respect shall at all times be accorded the flag, the national anthem, and other national symbols which embody the national ideals and which express the principles of sovereignty and national solidarity.
“The national flag is the symbol of the country while the national anthem embodies and expresses the aspirations, dreams, ideals, longings, commitment and determination, nationalism and patriotism, sentiment and spirit of the people. One simple way to inculcate nationalism and patriotism, not just to the youth but to Filipinos of all ages, is to emphasize the importance of saluting the national flag and the singing of the Philippine national anthem,” Rodriguez said.
Rodriguez, chairman of the House committee on Mindanao affairs, said disrespecting the national anthem, which is a violation of the law, usually happens in cinemas where moviegoers do not even stand when the national anthem is being played.
House Bill 5224, also known as the proposed “Revised Flag and Heraldic Code” seeks to strengthen the rules on the proper use and display of the country’s national symbols and the rendition of the national anthem.
It declares it is a State policy that reverence and respect shall at all times be accorded the flag, the national anthem, and other national symbols which embody the national ideals and traditions and which express the principles of sovereignty and national solidarity.
The bill further declares that the heraldic items and devices shall seek to manifest the national virtues and to inculcate in the minds and hearts of the people a just pride in their native land, fitting respect and affection for the national flag and anthem, and the proper use of the national motto, coat-of-arms, and other heraldic items and devices.
One of the salient features of the bill is that it expands the coverage of the penal provision to include administrative penalties for administrative offenses. Any public official or employee who violates any of the provisions of the Act shall be punished, in accordance with Rule 10 of the Revised Rules on Administrative Cases in the Civil Service, without prejudice to the filing of an appropriate criminal case, the bill provides.
The jurisdiction of a government agency or department over cases involving administrative offenses shall be in accordance with Rule 2, Section 9 of the Revised Rules on Administrative Cases in the Civil Service.
Moreover, any person who, or entity which violates any of the provisions of the Act, shall, upon conviction, be punished by a fine of P50,000 to P100,000, or by imprisonment for not more than one year, or both, at the discretion of the court.
For any second and additional offenses, both fine and imprisonment shall always be imposed. In case the violation is committed by a juridical person, its President or Chief Executive Officer shall be liable.
Meanwhile, those who fail or refuse to observe the provisions of the Act and violate the corresponding rules and regulations issued by the National Historical Commission of the Philippines (NHCP) shall, after probe, notice and hearing, be penalized by public censure to be published at least once in a newspaper of general circulation.
Likewise, the Department of Education (DepEd) and Commission on Higher Education (CHED), upon the recommendation of the NHCP and after the proper notice and hearing, shall cause the cancellation of the recognition or permit of any private educational institution which fails or refuses to observe the provisions of the Act for the second time.
The bill prescribes the design of the national flag such that the flag of the Philippines shall be blue, white and red with an eight-rayed golden-yellow sun and three five-pointed stars, as consecrated and honored by the people.
The flag shall be hoisted or displayed in all public buildings, official residences, public plazas, and institutions of learning every Monday to Friday throughout the year.
The flag should be permanently displayed or hoisted day and night, throughout the year, and in front of the following: Malacañang Palace; Senate of the Philippines building; House of Representatives building; Supreme Court building; Rizal Monument in Luneta; Aguinaldo Shrine in Kawit, Cavite; Barasoain Shrine in Malolos, Bulacan; Tomb of the Unknown Soldier; LIbingan ng mga Bayani in Taguig City Metro Manila; all memorials dedicated to the veterans of the military, Musoleo de los Veteranos dela Revolucion in the North Cemetery, City of Manila; Marcela Agoncillo historical landmark in Taal, Batangas; Pinaglabanan historical Landmark in San Juan City, Metro Manila; all international ports of entry; and all other places as may be designated and marked by the NHCP.
The flag shall be flown also on all seafaring vessels of Philippine registry.
The bill also provides a standard protocol when the Philippine flag is flown or displayed with another flag. When the Philippine flag is flown with another flag, the flags, if both are national flags, must be flown on separate staffs of the same height and shall be of equal size.
The Philippine flag shall be to the left of the observer and hoisted first and lowered last.
The flag shall be replaced immediately by the concerned agency/institution/office when it begins to show signs of wear and tear. A flag that is worn out through wear and tear shall not be thrown away. It shall be turned over to the appropriate Boy Scouts or Girl Scouts Local Council Committee in the nearest school which shall in turn conduct proper disposal rites to avoid misuse or desecration of the worn-out flag. The manner of disposal of the worn-out flag shall be in accordance with the rules to be issued by the NHCP.
The bill also provides for the mandatory singing of the national anthem during flag ceremony in all government offices and educational institutions.
It expands the coverage of government officials and personnel wherein the flag shall be flown at half-mast as a sign of mourning on the day of official announcement of the death of any of the following officials: the President or a former President, the incumbent and former Vice President, Chief Justice, President of the Senate, Speaker of the House of Representatives, the incumbent and former members of the Supreme Court, the Cabinet, the Senate or the House of Representatives, the incumbent and former elected LGU officials; and an incumbent public school teacher.
Other authors of HB 5224 are Reps. Christopher Vera Perez De Venecia (4th District, Pangasinan), Marlyn B. Alonte-Naguiat (Lone District, Biñan City) Victoria Isabel G.Noel (Party-list, AN WARAY), Jose Christopher Y. Belmonte (6th District, Quezon City), Deogracias Victor B. Savellano (1st District, Ilocos Sur), Sandra Y. Eriguel (2nd District, La Union), Pablo C. Ortega (1st District, La Union), Ana Katrina M. Enverga (1st District, Quezon),Lianda B. Bolilia (4th District, Batangas), Rosanna Vergara (3rd District, Nueva Ecija), Ron P. Salo (Party-list, KABAYAN), Mark O. Go (Lone District, Baguio City), Cecilia Leonila V. Chavez (Party-list,BUTIL), Luisa Lloren Cuaresma (Lone District, Nueva Vizcaya), Divina Grace C. Yu (1st District, Zamboanga del Sur), Vilma Santos-Recto (6th District, Batangas City), Giona Labadlabad (2nd District, Zamboanga del Norte), Ana Cristina S. Go (2nd District, Isabela) and Celso L. Lobregat (1st District, Zamboanga City). / ICY JR.