FALSE: New Philippine flag design on June 12, 2020

Claim: There will be a new design of the Philippine flag starting June 12, 2020.

In a graphic entitled, "New National Flag of the Philippines," the supposed new flag would be a "trihorizontal bicolor equal band" or a blue-red-blue band of equal height, replacing the current blue-red band.

The top blue band in the supposed design represents "peace/justice," the middle red band symbolizes "brave/valor/patriotism," while the bottom blue band represents "honest/truth."

The graphic, which still circulates on social media according to Facebook's Claim Check dashboard, said the change will start on June 12, 2020. 

A Facebook page claiming to be the National Historical Commission of the Philippines (NHCP) had also posted a similar graphic showing the same supposed new design of the Philippine flag. (As of writing, this Facebook page is in the process of changing its identity, and appears to have deleted its own graphic.)

Rating: FALSE

The facts: The colors and design of the Philippine flag are mandated by the Constitution and by an enabling law, which is Republic Act (RA) 8491 or the Flag and Heraldic Code of the Philippines. There are no approved amendments to these laws so far that authorize any change in the Philippine flag's design.

The NHCP, which enforces the rules on flags and other national symbols, issued a statement on its official Facebook page on Monday, June 1, saying there is no truth to the claim that the design of the country's flag will be changed.

The NHCP in its statement flagged the fake Facebook page that bore its name. The commission also pointed out that the flag's design can only be changed by amending RA 8491. The proposed design would then need to go through a referendum or plebiscite to get the public's approval before it could be enforced.

In a separate statement, NHCP executive director Restituto Aguilar said the Commission "has neither the mandate nor intent to change the current specifications of our National Flag."

There is a proposal in the current 18th Congress to update the flag's design, but only to add a 9th ray in the sun. Senator Richard Gordon, through Senate Bill No. 89 filed in July 2019, said the 9th ray would "symbolize the community of Muslim leaders who defended our land." 

Meanwhile, in the House of Representatives, amendments to RA 8491 seek only to update the list of officials and public servants who are privileged to have their casket covered or draped by the Philippine flag, and to increase penalties for disrespectful conduct while the national anthem is being played.

Another bill seeks to update RA 8491 "in the light of contemporary changes in attitudes and idioms." This bill, however, kept the current provisions on the design and specifications of the Philippine flag.

All Senate and House bills remain pending at the committee level. – Michael Bueza/Rappler.com

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