To encourage punctuality and stamp out the habit among many Filipinos of following their own so-called “Filipino time,” President Aquino has signed Republic Act No. 10535 requiring all government offices and the broadcast media to follow “Philippine Standard Time” (PST).
While the law requires obedience from the entire government bureaucracy—national and local—it also seeks to encourage punctuality among those notorious for being late.
The law requires the public school system and the government—local and national—“to conduct a continuing information campaign about the value of time and the need to respect the time of others, in order that the people may realize the imperative of synchronizing the official time.”
The law designates the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (Pagasa) as the official timekeeper.
“All government offices, agencies, instrumentalities (and) bureaus shall now coordinate with Pagasa once a month to synchronize official timepieces and devices,” said deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte.
The law empowers Pagasa to acquire “equipment necessary for the automatic dissemination of time with the global positioning system.”
PST is eight hours ahead of Greenwich Mean Time (GMT+8).
All agencies of government, including the local government units, are mandated to follow the PST starting June 1, or upon publication of the law.
The public can check the official time at http://www.pagasa.dost.gov.ph.
Pagasa, however, has put a notice on its website: “Internet is one of the main modes by which Pagasa disseminates the Philippine Standard Time (PST). Obviously, there may be discrepancies with the PST displayed here as compared to the Pagasa clock.
“The major causes of the discrepancy are Internet transmission delay and the computer workload of the computer you are using. If you need a more precise clock synchronization, we would suggest that you call (+632) 9291237.”
The law authorizes Congress to provide funds for the “installation, operation and maintenance of synchronized time devices to be displayed in key public places.”
The law was designed to also compel the media—particularly TV and radio stations across the archipelago—to synchronize their time devices.
“The National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) shall require the participation of all government and private television and radio stations in order to ensure the synchronization of timekeeping devices,” the law says.
The NTC can enforce obedience, including penalizing “owners of private television and radio stations who shall fail to calibrate and synchronize their time devices with the PST during their broadcast.”
The penalty ranges from P30,000 to P50,000 for the first offense, and in case of a second offense, revocation and cancellation of their franchises to operate.
However, no penalty will be enforced on individual Filipinos who fail—or refuse—to observe the PST.
The adoption of the PST placing the entire country under a single time for any given day is nothing new.
Presidential Decree No. 1149 has assigned Pagasa as the official agency to handle the dissemination of the PST.
RA 10535, however, requires both public and private institutions to adhere to Pagasa’s timekeeping system, enjoining compulsory obedience through the imposition of fines for erring broadcast entities.
While the country is observing a single time zone, other countries have as many as 11.
In 2010, Russia cut the number of its time zones from 11 to nine to lessen confusion.