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We Need to Strengthen the Rules on the Proper Use of the Flag and the Rendition of the National Anthem – RODRIGUEZ

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.

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).

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