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VERA FILES FACT CHECK: Imee Marcos falsely claims only one bill sought to name Jose Rizal national hero

Sen. Imee Marcos is wrong in saying the “only” measure filed in Congress that aimed to officially proclaim Jose Rizal a “national hero” was by then Bohol 1st District representative and now Vice Governor Rene Relampagos in 2014.

STATEMENT

In her Aug. 26 press release timed for National Heroes’ Day, Marcos said the Philippines “never” officially declared a national hero “even if it has been taught as early as grade school that the likes of Jose Rizal and Andres Bonifacio are among them.”

Her statement then said:

“The only bill that sought to proclaim a national hero was filed by Bohol congressman Rene Relampagos back in 2014, urging the government to declare the reformist writer Jose Rizal as such, who advocated, fought, and died for Philippine reforms during the Spanish colonial era.”

Source: Imee Marcos official Facebook Page, MARCOS: WHERE HAVE ALL OUR HEROES GONE?, Aug. 27, 2019


FACT

Marcos is wrong; at least two other bills filed in the House of Representatives proposed to officially declare Rizal a national hero.

Filed in 2014 during the 16th Congress, Relampagos’ House Bill 3926 seeks to “lay the basis for the declaration and recognition of the Philippine national symbols” and “correct” those that are “‘unofficial’ or blatantly, ‘colorums’” which are taught in schools. Hence, he proposed that, among others, the Philippine eagle be declared as the national bird, Adobo as the national food, and Rizal as the national hero.

Other measures that seek to declare Rizal a national hero are House Bills 3483 and 2762 filed separately in the 16th and 17th Congress by Caloocan Second District Rep. Edgar Erice. The bills seek to make Rizal and Bonifacio the official national heroes of the Philippines to “correct [the] legal oversight” as “there is yet no statute or executive issuance proclaiming [them] or any historical figure” as one.

Both of Erice’s bills, however, did not go beyond their respective committees, legislative records show. HB 3483 remained idle in the Committee on Revision of Laws since 2014 and was refiled in 2016 as HB 2762 in the Committee on Basic Education and Culture where it stayed until the 17th Congress ended.

While the country has no “official” national hero proclaimed by law, the National Commission on Culture and the Arts said both Rizal and Bonifacio are “impliedly recognized” as such. (See VERA FILES FACT CHECK: School textbooks enshrine Jose Rizal as national hero needs context)

In an interview with VERA Files in 2018 (See VERA FILES FACT CHECK: Is Ninoy Aquino a national hero?), the National Historical Commission of the Philippines, which is responsible for determining “all factual matters relating to official Philippine history,” said:

“The official position of the NHCP is that heroes are not legislated, they are made by public acclaim.”


Sources

Imee Marcos official Facebook Page, MARCOS: WHERE HAVE ALL OUR HEROES GONE?, August 27, 2019

House of Representatives, House Bill 3926

House of Representatives, House Bill 3483

House of Representatives, House Bill 2762


(Guided by the code of principles of the International
Fact-Checking Network at Poynter, VERA Files tracks the false claims,
flip-flops, misleading statements of public officials and figures, and
debunks them with factual evidence.
Find out more about this initiative and our methodology.)