Senate OKs bill declaring Jan. 23 “First PH Republic Day”

The Senate approved today on third and final reading a bill that would declare January 23 a special working national holiday to commemorate the inauguration of the First Philippine Republic. House Bill 477, or the "First Philippine Republic Day Act," sponsored by Senator Francis Escudero, chairman of the Senate Committee on Education, Arts and Culture, was approved with 20 affirmative votes, zero negative vote and no abstention.

Escudero said the First Philippine Republic, also known as the Malolos Republic, which was inaugurated at the Barasoain Church in Malolos, Bulacan on January 23, 1989, paved the way for the Philippines to be known as the first independent republic in Asia.

He said the passage of the bill into law would increase public awareness of the importance of the momentous event in the Philippine history. Senator Joel Villanueva, who introduced Senate Bill 1525, said it was important to commemorate January 23 of every year as the inauguration of the First Philippine Republic to "remind us of the beginning of Filipino democracy and the fight towards our freedom." He said establishment of the First Philippine Republic proved that Filipinos were capable of self-rule and deserved their longed-for-freedom after more than 300 years of bondage from Spanish rule.

"Even though 119 years have passed since the declaration of the First Philippine Republic in 1899, we still commemorate it today -- not only because it is a great moment in our national history, but also because we continue to search for the right path to take in realizing our common dreams as Filipinos and as a nation," he said.

Under the bill, the National Historical Commission, in coordination with the Department of Education, would be required to plan and implement activities for "The First Philippine Republic Day."

The bill also mandates the two agencies to "ensure that the significance of this historical event shall continue to inspire Filipinos."

Source: Senate of the Philippines

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