Pimentel says law needed for inclusion of 'Bagong Pilpinas' hymn, pledge in flag ceremonies

Senate Minority Leader Aquilino "Koko" Pimentel III expressed his belief that a law is needed to include the Bagong Pilipinas Hymn and Pledge in weekly flag ceremonies of all national government agencies (NGAs) and instrumentalities, including government-owned or -controlled corporations (GOCCs) and educational institutions.

"I suggest that the Executive Branch should submit a bill containing those ideas (to sing a new song and recite a new pledge) to amend the existing law(s) governing the National Anthem, Pledge, and Flag Raising ceremonies. The EO is not sufficient. I believe a law is needed in order to authorize that," he said on Monday, June 10.

"This involves the way of thinking of the people. Hence such a mandate must emanate from the people’s chosen representatives, their legislators. Also notice that the MC involves SUCs (State Universities and Colleges). The students therein are not even government employees. They all observe the established flag ceremony under existing law," he added.

Memorandum Circular (MC) No. 52, signed by Executive Secretary Lucas Bersamin on June 4, directs all heads of all NGAs and instrumentalities to ensure that the Bagong Pilipinas Hymn and Pledge are properly disseminated within their respective institutions and offices.

It likewise tasked the Presidential Communications Office (PCO) to implement effective measures to communicate and disseminate the Bagong Pilipinas Hymn and Pledge to all government offices and the public.

Meanwhile, Senate President Francis "Chiz" Escudero said that for him, there's nothing wrong with Malacañang's recent move, stating that there's specific personality mentioned or being favored in it.

Senate President Francis “Chiz” G. Escudero leads the flag raising ceremony on Monday, June 10, 2024, two days before the country celebrates its 126th Independence Day. (Senate PRIB photo)flag-raising

"Pero kung ako ang tatanungin hindi ako tutol doon dahil wala namang personalidad o pangalang binabanggit na pinapaburan at tulad ng sabi ko magandang paalala ito sa amin at paalala din ito sa ating mga kababayan na ito yung listahan na pwede niyong singilin sa mga opisyal at kawani ng pamahalaan (If you ask me, I am not against the move since there was no personality or anyone mentioned that is being favored and like I said this is a good reminder to us and a reminder to citizens that this is the list that can be hold accountable officials and government employees)," he said.

He mentioned that the memorandum does not automatically apply to the Senate, the House of Representatives, the Supreme Court (SC), and constitutional commissions. He added that he's not against it but will refer it to the Senate secretariat to study it.

"Tinanong ko kanina ito yata ang kauna-unahang pagkakataon na ito’y mangyayari dahil nung ni-require yung Bagong Lipunan noon ay wala yatang Senado noon ‘di ba so ngayon pa lang kung saka-sakali (I asked earlier and this is the first time that this will happen because when Bagong Lipunan was required before there was no Senate that time so this will be the first time if ever)," he added.

However, he added that it's not included in the Flag and Heraldic Code of the Philippines.

"Kung talagang nais nilang gawing pormal na yan at ipatupad sa lahat din ng mga okasyon ng pribadong sektor ang tamang hakbang ay i-amend yung flag and heraldic code at isama yan (If they really want to make this formal in all private sector occassions the right move is to amend the Flag and Heraldic Code and include this)," he said.

For Senate President Pro Tempore Jinggoy Ejercito Estrada, insofar as the laws are concerned, the singing and playing of the Philippine national anthem is governed by law, Republic Act (RA) 8491.

He mentioned that Section 38 of RA 8491 stipulates that whenever the national anthem is played at a public gathering, it must adhere to the musical arrangement and composition by Julian Felipe. Additionally, attendees are expected to sing the anthem with fervor.

He added that regarding the directive to all national agencies and instrumentalities to include the recital of the Bagong Pilipinas hymn and pledge during their weekly flag ceremonies, this is contained in Memorandum Circular No. 52 signed by Executive Sec. Lucas Bersamin by the authority of President Marcos last June 4.

"It’s important to note that MC 52 is neither illegal nor irregular; rather, it aims to foster a culture of good governance and progressive leadership across all government levels," he said.

"Walang pinagkaiba ito sa pagkanta ng Senate, school at university hymns na isang paraan para ipaalala ang pagiging makabayan at pagkakaisa nating mga Pilipino (This is no different from the Senate, school or university hymns that is a way to instill patriotism and unity among Filipinos)," he added.