Philippine MPs backed a proposed law which could see performers jailed for two years for disrespecting the national anthem by singing off-key or deviating from the song's original martial tempo, AFP reported Tuesday.
Members of parliament were incensed at the way "Lupang Hinirang" (Revered Homeland) was sung at the boxing matches of seven-time Filipino world champion Manny Pacquiao, Teddy Atienza of the National Historical Commission said.
"Our national anthem is always being vulgarized," said Atienza, head of the government commission's heraldry division.
The proposal aims to toughen up a 1998 flag law under which performing the anthem inappropriately can be punished with a year's prison and a small fine, officials said.
The new bill, passed on Monday by a parliament that now includes Pacquiao himself, would double the jail term and raise the fines to a maximum of 100,000 pesos ($2,285).
But it will only take effect if the Senate passes a similar version and President Benigno Aquino signs it. Atienza admitted a similar Senate bill has not made much progress.
He said the government had filed a suit in Manila against Filipino-American singer Martin Nievera, who is alleged to have taken liberties with his performance of the anthem at Pacquiao's 2009 fight against Briton Ricky Hatton.
The commission also criticized other prominent entertainers for the "wrong" way they sang the anthem at previous Pacquiao fights.
They include Arnel Pineda, a Filipino who was taken to task for going off key during Pacquiao's fight against Ghana's Joshua Clottey in Texas last March.
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