• Bill expands official national symbols list

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    The great Jose Rizal, the workhorse carabao, and even the all-time favorite Filipino dish adobo, among others, will finally be bestowed official national symbol status with a legislation expanding the list of national symbols in the country.

    Rep. Rene Relampagos of Bohol, chairman of the House Committee on Tourism, made the move under his House Bill 3926 or the Philippine National Symbols Act of 2014 which list the following as national symbols: Rizal as national hero, adobo as national food, anahaw as national leaf, carabao as national animal, mango as national fruit, bangus as the national fish, baro’t saya as national costume, bakya as national slippers, bahay-kubo as national house, jeepney as national vehicle, Bayan Ko as national song, cariñosa as the national dance and MakaDiyos (pro-God), Makatao (pro-people), Makakalikasan (pro-environment) at Makabansa (nationalist) as national motto.

    “National symbols represent its country, its people, its history and its culture. In the Philippines, there are around 20 national symbols being taught in school. However, of these symbols, only 10 are official, that is with basis either in the Constitution, Republic Acts and Proclamations,” Relampagos pointed out.

    There are only seven Philippine national symbols with an official status as stated in the Constitution and as provided for under existing laws.

    These are: the Philippine Flag as national flag, Lupang Hinirang as national anthem, narra as national tree, sampaguita as national flower, Philippine Eagle as the national animal, Philippine Pearl as national gem and arnis as national sport.

    “As it is, other national symbols unofficial or blatantly colorum for having no basis for their declaration. Rizal now becomes the unofficial national hero, carabao the unofficial national animal, mango the unofficial national fruit, bangus the unofficial fish, the baro’t saya as the unofficial national costume and so on,” Relampagos argued.

    Fake bomb threats
    Meanwhile, anyone who cracks a joke about a bomb threat, must pay a fine of at least a P1 million and be willing to do six years of jail-time.

    These penalties are provided under the House Bill 4030 filed by Rep. Romero Quimbo of Marikina which imposes stiffer penalties against the dissemination of false information on the presence of bombs, explosives and other incendiary devices in high density or sensitive places.

    Under Quimbo’s proposal, the penalty for such offense ranges from six to 12 years of imprisonment or a hefty penalty of P1 million to P5 million or both—much harsher compared with the existing penalties or a maximum of five-year jail time and P40,000 fine.

    “Every false bomb threat which alarms an area leads to unnecessary anxiety for the people, disruption of its regular activities, economic costs from the opportunity lost for productivity due to evacuation activities, waste of law enforcement and emergency response resources, as well as time spent which should have been used for more pressing public concerns,” Quimbo pointed out.

    Quimbo made the push for the measure in light of the string of bomb threats in a number of public places such as in St. Paul University-Pasig (February 27), University of Santo Tomas and Nangka Elementary School (February 26) and Ateneo de Manila University (February 12)—which all turned out to be hoax.

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