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By: Atty. Euney Marie Mata-Perez on June 11,2020

We celebrate Independence Day on June 12, 122 years after Gen. Emilio Aguinaldo declared independence from Spain and waved the first Philippine flag at his residence in Kawit, Cavite.

On this day, we celebrate our love and loyalty for our country.

Our Constitution declares that it is state policy to inculcate nationalism and patriotism in our youth.

Republic Act 8491, or the “Flag and Heraldic Code of the Philippines,” mandates that reverence and respect shall be accorded at all times to the Philippine flag, the national anthem and other national symbols that embody the country’s ideals and traditions, and express the principles of sovereignty and national solidarity. It penalizes violators.
The code thus prescribes some rules on the Philippine flag, as follows:

– The flag, if flown from a flagpole, shall have its blue field on top in time of peace and the red field on top in time of war; if in a hanging position, the blue field shall be to the right (left of the observer) in time of peace and the red field to the right (left of the observer) in time of war.

– A flag worn out through wear and tear shall not be thrown away. It shall be solemnly burned to avoid misuse or desecration. The flag shall be replaced immediately when it begins to show signs of wear and tear.

– May 28 to June 12 of each year are declared as Flag Days, during which all offices, agencies and instrumentalities of government, business establishments and institutions of learning, including private homes, are enjoined to display the flag.

The following are prohibited with respect to the flag:

– To mutilate, deface, defile, trample on, cast contempt or commit on the flag or any act or omission that casts dishonor or ridicule upon the flag over its surface (thus, it is illegal to burn the Philippine flag during rallies).

– To dip the flag to any person or object by way of compliment or salute.

– To use the flag as drapery, festoon or tablecloth; as covering for ceilings, walls, statues or other objects; as a pennant in the hood, side, back and top of motor vehicles; as a staff or whip; for unveiling monuments or statues; and as trademarks or for industrial, commercial or agricultural labels or designs.

– To display the flag under any painting or picture; horizontally face up (it shall always be hoisted aloft and allowed to fall freely); below any platform; or in discotheques, cockpits, night and day clubs, casinos, gambling joints and places of vice or where frivolity prevails.

– To wear the flag in whole or part as a costume or uniform.

– To add any word, figure, mark, picture, design, drawing, advertisement or imprint of any nature to the flag.

– To print, paint or attach a representation of the flag on handkerchiefs, napkins, cushions and other merchandise.

– To display in public any foreign flag, except in embassies and other diplomatic establishments, and in offices of international organizations.

– To use, display or be part of any advertisement or infomercial.

– To display the flag in front of buildings or offices occupied by aliens.

On the national anthem, the code expressly prescribes that its rendition, whether played or sung, shall be in accordance with the musical arrangement and composition of Julian Felipe. (We understand that, according to the National Historic Commission of the Philippines, the proper tempo is a 2/4 and 100 metronomes, and that the anthem should last 53 seconds).

When the national anthem is played at a public gathering, whether by a band or by singing or both, or reproduced by any means, the attending public shall sing it with fervor.

As a sign of respect, all persons shall stand at attention and face the Philippine flag, if there is one displayed. If none, they shall face the band or conductor. At the first note, all persons shall execute a salute by placing their right palms over their left chests. Those in the military or scouting shall give the prescribed salute.

The anthem shall not be played and sung for mere recreation, amusement or entertainment purposes, except on some occasions. These are international competitions where the Philippines is the host or has a representative; local competitions; during “signing off” and “signing on” of radio broadcasting and television stations; and before the initial and last screening of films or before the opening of theater performances.
Violators shall, upon conviction, be punished with a fine of between P 5,000 and P 20,000, imprisonment of not more than one year, or both.

Several bills have been introduced to amend the code to highlight the importance of complying with, abiding by and conforming to the standard expression as prescribed by law, as well to increase penalties for violations. As of today, none have been enacted.

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