[ RECOGNITION FOR MUSLIMS: RP flag to have 9th ray to the sun ]

MANILA, Philippines—The bicameral conference has approved the addition of a ninth ray to the sun in the Philippine flag to represent the Muslim people.

The flag’s current eight-ray sun represents the eight provinces that first rose in rebellion against Spanish colonial rule in 1896—Manila, Cavite, Bulacan, Cavite, Pampanga, Nueva Ecija, Tarlac, Laguna and Batangas.

Sen. Richard Gordon, primary author of the Ninth Ray Bill, defended the major alteration to the Philippine flag. He said it was a big step toward “reuniting the country.”

The Senate and the House of Representatives approved the proposal on Tuesday during the bicameral conference which met to reconcile the two chambers’ proposed amendments to the Flag and Heraldic Code.

The conference ironed out the differences between Senate Bill No. 3307 and House Bill No. 6424.

SB 3307 proposes amendments to Republic Act No. 8491, otherwise known as “An Act Prescribing the Code of the National Flag, Anthem, Motto, Coat-of-Arms and Other Heraldic Items and Devices of the Philippines.”

Included in the bill is Gordon’s proposal to add a ninth ray to the sun “to acknowledge the courage, bravery and integrity of Muslim Filipinos who fought for the nation’s independence.”

In a statement, Gordon lauded the approval of the ninth ray, saying that it would foster greater unity among Filipinos regardless of religion.

“We are a country that has had a conflict with our Muslim brothers for the last so many decades. I think this is a big step towards reuniting our country, recognizing the contributions of our fellow countrymen, the Filipino Muslims. We should recognize their deeds in our country,” he said.

Aside from Gordon, present during the bicam were Senate majority leader Juan Miguel Zubiri, and Representatives Del de Guzman, chairman of the House panel, Ma. Carissa Coscoluella, Salvador Escudero III and Roman Romulo.