Under a bill that the Philippine House of Representatives approved this week, singing the national anthem won’t just be mandatory — citizens will have to croon with enthusiasm, or risk jail time.
When the anthem, “Lupang Hinirang,” is played in a public space, singing “shall be mandatory and must be done with fervor,” according to the new legislation. Failure to do so could lead to fines of up to $2,000 and a prison term of up to a year, as well as “public censure,” which would be published in a “newspaper of general circulation.”
An exception would be made for “individuals whose faith or religious beliefs prohibit them from singing the national anthem.” While these people would be exempt from singing, the bill states, they would still have to “show full respect when the anthem is being sung or played ... by standing at attention.”
The bill, which needs Senate approval before it can be signed into law, is a revision of existing legislation. The current law codifies how “reverence and respect” should be shown to the national anthem, flag and other national symbols of the Philippines. The word “mandatory” is stipulated in the section on anthem singing as well as other stricter provisions. These include mandating the exact tempo of public performances of the anthem (it has to fall within 100 and 120 metronome) and instructing educational agencies to ensure that all students memorize the anthem in its entirety.
The new legislation includes several stipulations from a 2010 bill that sought to criminalize “improper singing” of the nation anthem, the BBC notes. That bill had been passed by a 196-0 margin in the lower house, but it was ultimately not signed into law.
As The New York Times reported this week, it’s unusual for countries to criminalize the failure to sing a national anthem; but several nations do have laws in place preventing the denigration of their nation’s song. In China, for instance, lawmakers are reviewing legislation that would make “derogatory” performances of their national anthem punishable by up to 15 days in detention, reported the South China Morning Post.
In 1942, two students in Chicago were charged with disorderly conduct and slapped with a fine for failing to stand when “The Star-Spangled Banner” played at a movie theater, according to the Times.