Law requires Filipinos to sing national anthem - with feeling

Elementary pupils sing the Philippine national anthem during a flag-raising ceremony.
Elementary pupils sing the Philippine national anthem during a flag-raising ceremony.PHOTO: AP

MANILA • Filipinos would be required to sing the national anthem when it is played in public - and to do so with enthusiasm - under a Bill that the House of Representatives of the Philippines approved on Monday.

If the Bill, which will be considered by the Senate, is approved and signed into law, a failure to sing the anthem, Lupang Hinirang, with sufficient energy would be punishable by up to a year in prison and a fine of 50,000 pesos (S$1,370) to 100,000 pesos.

A second offence would include both a fine and prison time, and violators would be penalised by "public censure" in a newspaper.

"The singing shall be mandatory and must be done with fervour," the Bill states. The law would also mandate the tempo of any public performance of the anthem - it must fall between 100 and 120 beats per minute.

Schools would have to ensure all students have memorised the song. It is not unusual for a nation to value its anthem - but it is rare for respect to be required by the law.

The Supreme Court in India ruled last November that movie theatres would be required to play the national anthem before screenings, and that moviegoers would be required to stand.

"The singing shall be mandatory and must be done with fervour," the Bill states. The law would also mandate the tempo of any public performance of the anthem - it must fall between 100 and 120 beats per minute.

The Indian court specified in February that it was unnecessary to stand if the anthem was played as part of a film, an issue that arose after reports that people were assaulted for not rising, according to The Times of India.

In Thailand, the anthem is played at 8am and 6pm each day on loudspeakers in places such as schools, office buildings, parks and train stations. People are expected to stand still and be silent.

Last week, Chinese lawmakers drafted laws to restrict where the national anthem can be played, as well as to crack down on malicious revisions or derogatory performances, according to The South China Morning Post. Violations would be punishable by up to 15 days in detention.

While there are no binding laws in the United States related to the national anthem, the flag code says people should "stand at attention facing the flag with the right hand over the heart" during the national anthem. If a flag is not present, people "should face towards the music and act in the same manner they would if the flag were displayed there".

NYTIMES

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 29, 2017, with the headline 'Law requires Filipinos to sing national anthem - with feeling'. Print Edition | Subscribe