I am a member of the Barangay Peace Action Team in our barangay (village). Most of the crimes that happened within our jurisdiction are being perpetrated by drunkards. On one occasion, I chanced upon my neighbor drinking with his friend. I saw them also when they took the Philippine flag from an elementary school and used it as a tablecloth. I cautioned them not to use it for such purpose and instructed them to return the flag to its pole. They refused, saying it was no big deal. May I know if these individuals have violated any law?
Your neighbor and his friend’s action is not a simple matter because they have already violated the provisions of Republic Act (RA) 8491 or the Flag and Heraldic Code of the Philippines. The prohibited acts under this law are found under Section 34, which are the following:
“a. To mutilate, deface, defile, trample on or cast contempt or any act or omission casting dishonor or ridicule upon the flag over its surface;
b. To dip the flag to any person or object by way of compliment or salute;
c. To use the flag:
1. As a drapery, festoon, tablecloth
2. As covering for ceilings, walls, statues or other objects;
3. As a pennant in the hood, side, back and top of motor vehicles;
4. As a staff or whip;
5. For unveiling monuments or statues; and
6. As trademarks or for industrial, commercial or agricultural labels or designs.
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.
e. To wear the flag in whole or in part as a costume or uniform;
f. To add any word, figure, mark, picture, design, drawings, advertisements or imprint of any nature on the flag;
g. To print, paint or attach representation of the flag on handkerchiefs, napkins, cushions and other articles of merchandise;
h. To display in public any foreign flag, except in embassies and other diplomatic establishments, and in offices of international organizations.
i. To use, display or be part of any advertisement of infomercial; and
j. To display the flag in front of buildings or offices occupied by aliens.”
When the two individuals took the flag of the school and used it as a tablecloth, their actuation falls squarely under Letter C (1) of the above-mentioned law as a prohibited act. Prohibited acts may be punished pursuant to Section 50 of RA 8491, which provides that “any person or judicial 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 (P5,000.00) not more than Twenty thousand pesos (P20,000.00), 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, That in case the violation is committed by a juridical person, its president or chief executive officer thereof shall be liable.”
Hence, both of your neighbors may be charged for violation of the above-mentioned provision of the law.
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