I have a friend who owns a licensed cockpit arena in their province. My friend, being proud of his heritage, always has a Philippine flag displayed at the center of the arena. When the new mayor learned about this, he asked that the flag be removed as it is allegedly disrespectful to the flag and illegal to raise it in a cockpit. My friend argued that he has no intention to disrespect the flag and that he in fact is proud of his nationality that’s why he had it displayed. Despite this, the local government still removed the flag from his cockpit. Because of this, I want to know if there is really a legal basis to have the flag removed from my friend’s cockpit. Aren’t we supposed to display it anyway to show that we are proud of being Filipinos? Thank you for your time.
Republic Act No. 8491(R.A. 8491), known as the Flag and Heraldic Code of the Philippines, is the primary law that prescribes the proper use of heraldic items such as the Philippine flag to accord reverence and respect to our country’s national symbols.
With regard to your concern on the proper use and display of the Philippine flag, the Implementing Rules and Regulations of RA 8491enumerates prohibited acts involving its use. According to the law:
“SECTION 34. It shall be prohibited to:
d. Display the flag:
1. Under any painting or picture;
2. Horizontally face-up. It shall always be hoisted aloft and be allowed to fall freely;
3. Below any platform; or
4. In discotheques, cockpits, night and day clubs, casinos, gambling joints and places of vice or where frivolity prevails.” Section 34 (d)(4), (I), Chapter I, RA 8491. (Emphasis supplied)
As clearly mentioned in the above-cited provision, there are specific places where it is prohibited to display the national flag. Expressly included in these places are cockpits, such as the one owned by your friend.
Your friend’s intention, despite being sincere and noble, cannot prevail over the express prohibition of the law against display of the national flag in cockpits. Likewise, it must be noted that the law also imposes penalties to whoever fails or refuses to observe the provisions of this law, to wit:
Section 50. Any person or juridical entity which violates any of the provisions of this Act shall, upon conviction, be punished by a fine of not less than Five thousand pesos (P5,000) nor more than Twenty thousand pesos (P20,000), or by imprisonment for not more than one (1) year, or both such fine and imprisonment, at the discretion of the court: Provided, That for any second and additional offenses, both fine and imprisonment shall always be imposed: Provided, further, That in case the violation is committed by a juridical person, its President or Chief Executive Officer thereof shall be liable.
Because of the aforementioned provisions of RA 8491, there is a legal reason for the removal of the Philippine flag from your friend’s cockpit arena. Regardless of your friend’s intention, he is mandated by law to observe the proper use and display of the Philippine flag. Otherwise, he may be charged and penalized for the violation of RA 8491.
Again, we find it necessary to mention that this opinion is solely based on the facts you have narrated and our appreciation of the same. The opinion may vary when the facts are changed or elaborated.
We hope that we were able to enlighten you on the matter.
Editor’s note: Dear PAO is a daily column of the Public Attorney’s Office. Questions for Chief Acosta may be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org