Philippines national anthem abuse subject to new law

By Kate McGeown
BBC News, Manila

Image caption,
New penalties would punish misuse of the Philippines flag and "wrong" renditions of the national anthem

The Philippine House of Representatives has approved a bill criminalising the improper singing of the country's national anthem.

If the Senate passes the bill into law, performers who deviate from the official version could face a fine of more than $2,000 (£1,264).

The new bill, which is very precise, says offenders could face up to two years in jail.

It also outlines penalties for improper use or displaying of the national flag.

When one of the Philippines' most famous pop stars Charice Pempengco sings her country's national anthem, her rendition is deemed acceptable by the National Historical Institute.

But not all versions are so favourably received.

Other performers have been criticised for singing the anthem too slowly or with the wrong beat, or adding their own personal touches.

This new bill is very precise: the anthem should be sung to a marching tempo, within the range of 100 to 120 beats per minute.

When it is played at public gatherings and in cinemas, all citizens should stand to attention and sing with fervour, as a sign of respect.

The bill also tightens up the rules on the use of the national flag - but it is the anthem that has the biggest impact.

This is a country where people love to sing. Now - if people want to sing their national song, they need to make sure they do it properly.

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