Is ‘Bagong Pilipinas’ hymn, pledge recital requirement legal? Lawyer weighs in

June 10, 2024 - 6:13 PM
Different government agencies and military personnel attend the flag-raising ceremony at Rizal Park in celebration of National Flag Day on May 28, 2024. (The STAR/Ryan Baldemo)

President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. has instructed government agencies as well as some schools to recite the “Bagong Pilipinas” hymn and pledge.

Over the weekend, the government agencies, government-owned and controlled corporations (GOCCs), as well as educational institutions, have been required to comply with Memorandum Circular (MC) 52, which would “instill the ‘Bagong Pilipinas’ brand of governance and leadership”. Local Government Units (LGUs) are also welcome to follow.

READ: Gov’t agencies told to include ‘Bagong Pilipinas’ hymn, pledge in flag ceremonies

Similarly, according to MC 24, the slogan would reflect a principled, accountable and dependable government.

Filipinos online believed that this movement may parallel the “Bagong Lipunan” anthem that was previously required in the 1970s during the Martial Law under late President Ferdinand Marcos Sr.

READ: History behind the ‘Bagong Lipunan’ hymn played at a proclamation rally

In a post on X (formerly Twitter), senior history researcher Kristoffer Pasion found the pledge “contrived” and said that is bears the markings of a “propaganda.”

Is this legal?

Meanwhile, lawyer and former Far Eastern University (FEU) Law Dean Mel Sta. Maria pointed out that requiring the “Bagong Pilipinas” hymn and pledge to Filipinos is “coercive” and contradicts an existing law.

“REPUBLIC ACT NO. 8491 ALREADY  provides an OATH of Allegiance which has a statutory formula. There is no authority given to the President to add and require a ‘HYMN AND A PLEDGE’ to be recited during flag ceremony. Memorandum Circular No. 52 is clearly ultra vires and illegal,” he said on X.

Section 18 of the Republic Act (RA) 8491, states that the ceremony must be “simple and dignified and shall include the playing or singing of the Philippine National Anthem,” while Section 19 of the law adds that the president can issue rules and regulations to properly conduct the flag ceremony. Both do not underline any authority to add a new hymn and pledge, according to the law.

Additionally, Section 20 of the same RA noted that the flag ceremony is only made to be simple and dignified and “shall include the playing or singing of the anthem in its original Filipino lyrics and march tempo.”

Sen. Koko Pimentel said on Monday that the memorandum should have been supported by a bill to amend the existing law on the national anthem and flag-raising ceremony.

“The Executive Order is not sufficient. I believe a law is needed to authorize that,” he emphasized.

‘Bagong Pilipinas’ as a reminder

Sen. Jinggoy Estrada, on the other hand, said that reciting “Bagong Pilipinas” is neither illegal nor irregular. Instead, he said that it acts as a reminder to “foster a culture of good governance and progressive leadership across all government levels.”

“Walang pinagkaiba ito sa pagkanta ng Senate, school, at university hymns na isang paraan para ipaalala ang pagiging makabayan at pagkakaisa nating mga Pilipino,” he added in a Facebook post.