MANILA, July 28 — The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) on Friday said it will no longer file charges against “Juana Change” (Mae Paner in real life) for her inappropriate use of a military uniform during one of the protest actions during President Rodrigo Duterte’s second State-of-the-Nation-Address (SONA) last July 24.
“Last night (Thursday), the Chief of Staff, AFP, Gen. Eduardo Año, ordered a thorough review of the case of Ms. Paner following information that Ms Paner did not actually ridicule soldiers but even praised the sacrifices of our men in uniform,” AFP spokesperson Brig. Gen. Restituto Padilla said.
Reports indicated that Paner did those things in the interest of the arts as she is a recognized comedian.
“Based on these information and other findings, the AFP will no longer pursue the case and calls upon Ms. Paner and other unauthorized individuals to henceforth desist from the inappropriate use of our uniforms,” Padilla stressed.
However, despite the AFP’s decision to not file charges against the comedian, he said Paner must understand that the particular uniform she wore is the AFP’s “Battle Dress Attire” and the uniform worn by many soldiers killed while battling for the country.
“It is the same uniform our soldiers wear whenever we go to battle and the same uniform many of our heroes die wearing in defense of the motherland and our people. This is the very reason we hold this particular uniform sacred,” he added.
Padilla earlier said that Paner’s unauthorized wearing of a military uniform is in violation of Article 179 of the Revised Penal Code (Unauthorized Use of Uniforms) and Republic Act 493 (Prohibition of Use of Insignias, Decorations, Badges and patches prescribed for the AFP).
Article 179 states that the penalty of “arresto mayor” shall be imposed upon any person who shall publicly and improperly make use of insignia, uniforms or dress pertaining to an office not held by such person or to a class of persons.
Republic Act 493 stressed that “it is unlawful for any person or association or persons not in the service of the AFP and the Philippine Constabulary, the forerunner of the PNP, to use, or confer upon himself or another any military or naval grade or title which is, or may hereafter be, prescribed by laws and regulations for the use of the Armed Forces or Constabulary.”
Section 2 of the above-mentioned law also states that “the use or wearing of any military or naval insignia, badge or emblem of rank while engaged in representing a military or naval character as hereinabove described, shall be subject to supervision and regulation by the Secretary of National Defense.”
“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, the AFP 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,” Padilla emphasized.