MANILA — The House of Representatives has approved on final reading a bill which seeks to strengthen the rules on the use and display of the country’s national symbols, as well as the proper rendition of the national anthem, “Lupang Hinirang”.
With 212 votes on the affirmative, the lower chamber unanimously approved House Bill 5224, expressly repealing Republic Act No. 8491 or the “Flag and Heraldic Code of the Philippines”.
HB 5224, or the proposed “Revised Flag and Heraldic Code”, confirms the official design of the Philippine flag — blue, white and red with an eight-rayed golden-yellow sun and three five-pointed stars — which must be consecrated and honored by the people.
The bill mandates that the Philippine flag be hoisted all throughout the year in front of government institutions and other places such as the Malacañang Palace, Senate, House of Representatives, Supreme Court, and the Rizal Monument in Luneta, among others.
The bill declares as Flag Days the period from May 28 (National Flag Day) to June 12 (Independence Day) of each year.
During the Flag Days, all government offices, business establishments, learning institutions, and private homes are obligated to display the Philippine flag and observe proper ceremonies.
As for private buildings and residences, the Philippine flag shall be displayed during the following events: Araw ng Kagitingan — April 9; Labor Day — May 1; National Flag Day — May 28; Independence Day — June 12; National Heroes Day — last Monday of August; Bonifacio Day — November 30; and Rizal Day — December 30.
All government offices and educational institutions shall observe the flag-raising ceremony every Monday morning and the flag-lowering every Friday afternoon.
HB 5224 also seeks to expand the coverage of government officials wherein the flag shall be flown at half-mast as a sign of mourning on the day of the announcement of the death of the following officials: President or a former President; incumbent and former Vice President; Chief Justice; Senate President; and House Speaker on all buildings and places where the deceased held office.
Furthermore, the flag shall also be flown at half-mast on the day of the official announcement of the death of an incumbent public school teacher on Department of Education (DepEd) schools or district offices where the deceased was assigned to teach.
Meanwhile, the national anthem, “Lupang Hinirang” shall be committed to memory by all students of both public and private educational institutions, and rendered during the flag ceremony.
The bill prescribes the rendition of the “Lupang Hinirang” in accordance with the musical arrangement and composition of Julian Felipe, in 2/4 beat when played; and within the range of 100 to 120 metronome, in 4/4 beat when sang.
HB 5224 also prescribes the national motto, national coat-of-arms, and the great seal.
The National Historical Commission of the Philippines shall be responsible for the strict enforcement of the proposed law.
The bill provides penal consequences subjecting the offender to criminal and/or administrative cases, and shall be penalized by public censure, imprisonment and/or fine.
Under the bill, it shall be unlawful to mutilate, deface, defile, trample on or cast contempt, dishonor or ridicule upon the flag, anthem, seal, motto, coat-of-arms, and other heraldic items and devices.
It is likewise unlawful to use the flag as staff or whip, or as drapery, festoon, tablecloth or as covering for ceilings, walls, statues, motor vehicles, or other objects.
It also prohibits the wearing of the flag, seal, coat-of-arms as part of a costume or as a fashion accessory or design element; or adding any word, figure, picture or advertisement on the flag, seal, coat-of-arms; printing or attaching thereof on articles of merchandise; or using them for other purposes, without the approval of NHCP. FMC/PNA-northboundasia.com