|UPSIDE DOWN. President Benigno Aquino III and US President Barack Obama in a press conference at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel on Saturday. - Jay Morales / Malacañang Photo Bureau
MANILA, Philippines – The United States embassy apologized on Sunday over the inverted Philippine flag displayed during the meeting between US President Barack Obama and leaders of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in New York City on Saturday.
US embassy spokesperson Rebecca Thompson described the incident as “an honest mistake.”
“The US treasures its close relationship and close partnership with the Philippines which were demonstrated this past week during President Aquino’s trip to the US, with the signing of the MCC Compact, the US-ASEAN meeting, and the meeting of our two Presidents that followed it,” she said.
The Philippine government’s official website, gov.ph, published the US apology.
Malacañang, however, has yet to comment on the issue.
Official photos posted on gov.ph show Obama, President Benigno Aquino, and the inverted Philippine flag -- with its red section on top instead of blue. (Click here)
Protocol dictates that national flags should only be flown upside down to indicate distress.
A nation's flag is also sometimes flown inverted as a sign of protest or contempt against the country concerned.
The Philippine flag’s blue and red stripes are only switched to indicate a state of war.
Section 10 of Republic Act 8491 states: “The flag, if flown from a flagpole, shall have its blue field on top in time of peace and the red field on top in time of war; if in a hanging position, the blue field shall be to the right (left of the observer) in time of peace, and the red field to the right (left of the observer) in time of war.”
The law covering the national flag also provides penalties such as a fine and imprisonment of up to one year for people found disrespecting the flag.