The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) on Thursday said satirist Mae Paner or “Juana Change” might face an “appropriate” action for wearing a battle uniform of the Philippine Army in a public rally even if she is not in the military service.
Brig. Gen. Restituto Padilla, spokesman for the AFP, said Paner “disrespected” the military, saying the comedienne is neither connected with any attached agency of the AFP nor a member of the reservist corps.
Paner’s act serves as a violation of Republic Act (RA) 943 or an act prohibiting the use of insignias, decorations, badges and patches prescribed for the AFP.
“We will take the necessary legal action to hold Miss Paner accountable,” Padilla said.
But Padilla, a member of the Air Force, said everytime the comedienne will wear the Army uniform will be counted “as one more violation” as provided under RA 943.
“What we are saying is that [Paner] needs to respect our uniform that is why we will lobby the appropriate office here in the Armed Forces to take a better look and ask Juana and others using our uniforms [without them being part of the military],” he said.
Paner will not be facing any criminal liability, Padilla added, but pointed out that there are appropriate regulations and laws on unauthorized wearing of any military uniform in public.
On Monday, while President Rodrigo Duterte was delivering his second State of the Nation Address in Batasang Pambansa, Paner joined a rally outside wearing an Army uniform.
Paner apparently was objecting to Duterte’s recent declaration of martial law and the Congress’ decision to extend it until the end of this year.
Under RA 943, signed in the 1950s, it is unlawful for any person or any association not in the service of the military or even the Philippine Constabulary (Philippine National Police at present) to wear such uniform without being authorized.
The law specifies that those who can only wear a battle gear suit are veterans of any war recognized by the Philippine or United States government; commissioned officers and personnel, retired or in active duty; commissioned and enlisted reservists including recognized guerrilla officers or those of inactive status; and military trainees.
In her recent posts on her social media account, Paner justified that some members of the movie industry are also wearing uniforms either from the Philippine National Police or any of the AFP services whenever on air for acting in television or big-screen purposes.
She gave her salutations to the soldiers “who have an unconditional love and sacrifice for the mother nation.”
Padilla, however, said Paner “must first read” the laws prohibiting the wearing of any AFP uniforms “in order to understand why she is being held liable.”
“The malicious intent also betrays her motive,” he added.
Lt. Col. Ray Tiongson, Philippine Army spokesman, said a military uniform is “a symbol of authority” that must be used “properly and with dignity.”
“Lawless elements have often worn military uniforms to carry out atrocious activities or impersonating soldiers for other criminal purposes,” he added.