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House OKs bill criminalizing improper singing of RP anthem

October 4, 2010 12:31pm
The House of Representatives on Monday approved on third and final reading a bill criminalizing the improper singing of the national anthem ‘Lupang Hinirang’ and disrespect to other national symbols.

All of the 196 members present during the session voted in favor of House Bill 465 or "An Act Prescribing the Code of the National Flag, Anthem, Motto, Coat-of-Arms and other Heraldic Items and Devices of the Philippines."

Aside from the National Anthem, the bill — a consolation of House Bills 603 and 465 — also seeks to protect the Philippine flag and other heraldic items of the country.

The bill will now be forwarded to the Senate for its consideration. The Senate can file a similar bill or adopt the House-approved bill. Once the Senate approves its version of the bill, a bicameral conference committee will be called to reconcile the differences in the bills of the two chambers. The reconciled bill will then be approved by the Senate and House and sent to the President for signature.

The House held a morning session to discuss the P1.6-trillion proposed national budget for 2011 but tackled first all the pending bills after the sponsorship speech of House appropriations committee chairman Rep. Jose Emilio Abaya.

Under the House-approved measure, a P100,000 fine and two-year imprisonment await a 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 said.

Several popular singers, among them Journey’s Arnel Pineda, Martin Nievera and the all-female group La Diva, had been criticized for their renditions of the country’s National Anthem, both during the fights of Filipino boxing icon and now Sarangani Rep. Manny Pacquiao.

Warning for moviegoers

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 public gatherings.

Even moviegoers who do not stand up when the National Anthem is being played in cinemas will be sanctioned if the measure subsequently becomes a law, as it empowers the security personnel and ushers in movie houses to arrest a violator 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 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 the respect accorded the use of the national symbols form the base of good citizenship and must be reiterated and strengthened.

Prohibited under the measure is 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, the bill said. 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.

Respect the flag

The flag may be used to cover the casket of deceased military personnel, veterans, national artists, and of civilians who have rendered distinguished service to the nation, as determined by the local government unit concerned. The flag, however, should not touch the ground and shall be folded solemnly and handed over to the heirs of the deceased.

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.

Under the bill, the National Heritage Institute shall be responsible for the strict enforcement of the measure and shall submit the implementing rules and regulations to the Office of the President and Congress of the Philippines and may include other acts or omission which shall be deemed disrespectful, relative to the flag, national anthem, great seal, coat-of-arms, national motto, and other heraldic items and devices. — RSJ, GMANews.TV
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