The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) on Friday said it would no longer file charges against actress and political activist Mae “Juana Change” Paner for wearing a military uniform during a rally on Monday.
During the “Mindanao Hour” news briefing in Malacañang, AFP spokesman Brig. Gen. Restituto Padilla Jr. said Armed Forces chief Eduardo Año made the decision after a “thorough review of the case” of Paner, following information that she was actually honoring the sacrifices of soldiers when she wore military dress during a rally.
He also cited reports that Paner did this in the interest of the arts, being a comedian.
“Based on this information and other findings, the AFP will no longer pursue the case but calls upon Ms. Paner and other unauthorized individuals to henceforth desist from the inappropriate use of our uniforms,” said Padilla, quoting Año.
“She and the others must understand that the particular uniform she wore is the battledress attire of our Armed Forces. It is the same uniform our soldiers wear whenever we go to battle, and the same uniform many of our heroes die wearing in the battlefield, and in the defense of the motherland and our people. This is the very reason we hold this particular uniform very sacred,” he added.
Padilla also invited Paner to join the military as a reservist so she could wear the uniform without any problems.
“If it is her desire to extol the sacrifice, gallantry, and dedication to duty of all our soldiers and help recruit more patriotic Filipinos to the Armed Forces, your Armed Forces is open to have Ms. Paner among the ranks of our patriotic reservists who, without hesitation, continue to be among our most ardent partners for change,” he said.
Paner’s photograph became the target of criticism after it was posted and shared on different social media accounts including that of the Philippine Army Recruitment Office.
Paner, in a post on her Facebook account, said that what she did was performance art and while she donned the uniform in a protest during President Duterte’s second State of the Nation Address, it was really to honor the Filipino soldier.