House approves bill declaring Jan 23 as 1st Philippine Republic Day

MANILA, Philippines – The House of Representatives approved on 3rd and final reading a bill declaring every January 23rd as the "The First Philippine Republic Day."

House Bill (HB) Number 477 would make January 23 a nationwide special working holiday for Filipinos to commemorate the declaration of the First Philippine Republic on January 23,1899 at the Barasoain Church in Malolos, Bulacan.

Voting 256-1-0, lawmakers approved the measure on the last day of session before the House took a two-week break. HB Number 477 will now be sent to the Senate. 

The National Historical Commission of the Philippines (NHCP) noted in its website that while the First Philippine Republic was short-lived, it "catapulted the Filipino nation onto the world's consciousness, carving not only a place among the family of nations but also a distinct niche as the first republic in Asia."

Bill author and Bulacan 1st District Representative Jose Antonio Sy-Alvarado said HB Number 477 would play a crucial role in promoting nationalism in the country.  

"The significance of January 23, 1899 is that the First Philippine Republic came into being as the sovereign choice of the people. It was a conscious choice to reject a dictatorial and revolutionary government and establish for all the future Filipino generations the groundwork for democracy," said Sy-Alvarado in a statement. 

"The upheaval of nationalistic fervor leading to our independence was followed with cool and calm which was thought to make the gains for Philippine democracy and republicanism more lasting and permanent through the enactment of the first organic law for the Philippine Republic," he added.

For the lawmaker, passing HB Number 477 into law would give "due recognition" to the country's forefathers who played a crucial role in the inauguration of the First Philippine Republic.

"The beginning of Filipino democracy and self-government, indigenously concluded, magnifies the political maturity and readiness of our forefathers at the turn of that century," he said.

"I hope that we can give due recognition with this great feat and achievement of our forefathers in commemorating January 23 as a national holiday," Sy-Alvarado added. – Rappler.com

Mara Cepeda

Mara Cepeda writes about politics and women’s rights for Rappler. She covers the House of Representatives and the Office of the Vice President. Got tips? Send her an email at mara.cepeda@rappler.com or shoot her a tweet @maracepeda.

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