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Mandatory singing of Bagong Pilipinas song, pledge draws widespread ire

By Beting Laygo Dolor, Editor

MANILA  —  Doesn’t it remind one of the widely despised regime of the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos Sr?

Various quarters were up in arms in recent days following a new ruling from the national government calling for the singing of the current Marcos regime’s Bagong Pilipinas hymn and pledge in all government agencies during their weekly flag raising ceremonies.

It brought back memories of the Bagong Lipunan song of the first Marcos regime, which was played at every opportunity after the declaration of martial law, and the elder Marcos’ call for a “New Society.”

Signed by Executive Secretary Lucas Bersamin last June 4, 2024, Memorandum Circular (MC) 52 was issued by Malacanang “to further instill the principles of the Bagong Pilipinas brand of governance and leadership among Filipinos.

Making the song and pledge mandatory requires a law, according to Senate minority leader Aquilino Pimental lll.

“The memorandum circular is not sufficient,” he said, adding that “a law is needed to authorize that.”

Senate President pro-tempore Jinggoy Estrada said that by law, it is only the singing and playing of the Philippine National Anthem as written by Julian Felipe that should be played at public gatherings.

Mel Sta Maria, law professor at the Far Eastern University, said the Palace memo was in violation of Republic Act (RA) 8491, or the Flag and Heraldic Code.

Sta Maria said the Office of the President was transgressing a law “which it claims it is implementing.”

Netizens pointed out that making the hymn and pledge mandatory would mean it would remain in use beyond the remaining years of the current Marcos regime.

It could be an indication that Ferdinand Marcos Jr. was planning to remain in power beyond the term for which he was elected, following in his father’s footsteps.

A group of educators slammed MC 52. The Teaches Dignity Coalition (TDC) said in a statement that “this initiative is a superficial attempt to instill a brand of governance that, instead of genuinely educating schoolchildren about nationalism and patriotism through the exemplary lives of our national leaders, resorts to mandatory recitations and songs.”

The group dismissed the song and pledge as “hollow rituals or the blind worship of national symbols” when they are really nothing more than “a piece of propaganda.”

Another group from the academe, The Congress of Teachers/Educators for Nationalism and Democracy, also opposed the Palace directive, saying it may well be unconstitutional.

RA 8491 “does not provide the Office of the President the authority to create and create a new hymn to sing or pledge to recite during flag ceremonies in the country,” the group said, quoting the opinion of legal experts.

Meanwhile, Alliance of Concerned Teachers chair Vladimer Quetua said that flag ceremonies in schools already take up to 45 minutes of what should be morning school time. As such, adding a new song and pledge is seen as nothing more than a waste of time.

The MC only covers the Executive branch of government, meaning all government agencies should adhere to the new rule. It does not cover the Legislative and/or Judicial branches of government, where only the Pledge of Allegiance and the Philippine National Anthem are mandatory in the weekly gatherings, normally at the first working day of the week.