A man was arrested after watching “Justice League” at a Philippine theater for allegedly refusing to stand up while the national anthem, Lupang Hinirang (Land of the Morning), was playing.
Local authorities arrested 20-year-old Bayle Einstein Gonzales at a movie theater in Clark, Pampanga over the weekend.
Gonzales was arrested under the grounds of disrespecting the country’s flag and national anthem. According to Coconuts, Gonzales could be facing a 5,000 to 20,000 Philippine peso ($100-$400) fine and up to a year imprisonment if found guilty.
It’s customary for most theaters in the Philippines to play the national anthem before the cinema’s last screening of the day. While failure to do so doesn’t usually end in an arrest, Gonzales was unfortunate enough to share the theater with Philippine diplomat and Charge D’Affaires to Iraq Elmer Cato.
Cato reportedly urged Gonzales to stand up during the national anthem, but the 20-year-old man allegedly ignored the advice and did so while still eating his popcorn. The gesture infuriated Cato who exclaimed, “I just could not let this disrespect pass. My blood still boiling.”
“I’ve never had an outburst like this before but I just had to confront this guy in front of me here at the IMAX at SM Clark who didn’t bother to rise for the national anthem while all the rest did including my American brother-in law-and other foreigners watching Justice League with us,” Cato explained via a Facebook post.
However, Cato’s post garnered some mixed reactions from netizens who were torn between congratulating him and lashing out at him. Some Facebook users told Cato that what he did was “just right,” while others criticized him by saying, “you just ruined someone’s life.”
“Why do you feel so offended at someone else’s lack of reverence for your belief?” asked another user.
According to GMA News, the Philippines’ stricter policies when it comes to honoring the countries flag and national anthem also drew some mixed feedback from legal experts.
National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers President Edre Olalia stressed there are other bills that are more “meaningful, imperative and relevant” compared to House Bill 5224, a policy that strictly mandates proper observation of the country’s national anthem and flag.
“Such seemingly mundane no-brainer pieces of legislation should not merit inordinate attention and resources,” Olalia added.