The Armed Forces of the Philippines said Thursday that it will file charges against Mae Paner, more popularly known as Juana Change, who was seen wearing a military uniform during a protest action during the State of the Nation Address of President Rodrigo Duterte.
In a press statement, AFP spokesperson Brigadier General Restituto Padila Jr. said Paner “has inappropriately used our military uniform and disrespected it since she is not a member of the AFP nor a part of our reservists corps.”
“Her act of illegally using an AFP uniform is in violation of Art 179 of the RPC (Unauthorized Use of Uniforms) and RA 493 (Prohibition of Use of Insignias, Decorations, Badges and patches prescribed for the AFP),” he said.
“We will take the necessary legal action to hold Ms. Paner accountable,” he added.
Padilla said they won't ask the performance artist to stop using the uniform “because each time she wears it is counted as one more violation. Hence she is compounding her liabilities all the more.”
Paner’s photograph has been 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 what she did was performance art as she thanked the people who supported her amid the bashing.
“Hindi po ang uniporme ang pinuproteksyunan ng mga suklam sa akin sa paggamit ko ng military uniform sa aking performance kundi ang pinaka iniidolong presidente ng bayan. Salamat sa lahat ng mga nag abalang mag-isip, dumepensa at magbigay liwanag. ANG SINING NANGGIGISING,” she said.
“Yes, I will payt (fight) because people have given their lives wearing this uniform. Saludo sa mga sundalong tunay ang pagmamahal at sakripisyo para sa ating inang-bayan,” she added.
“Kaya mahalaga ang sining. Galing mambuska. Galing manggising. Lumalanding,” said Paner.
Padilla said Paner must first read the cited laws in order to understand why she is being held liable.
“The malicious intent also betrays her motive,” he said.
In a separate statement, Army spokesperson Lieutenant Colonel Ray Tiongson said a military uniform is a symbol of authority that must be used properly and with dignity and the unauthorized wearing by civilians impacts negatively on the image of the Philippine Army and the AFP, apart from security implications.
“Lawless elements have often worn military uniforms to carry out atrocious activities or impersonating as soldiers for other criminal purposes,” he said.
He called on the civilian citizens to desist from unauthorized wearing of any military uniform.
He said Article 179 of the Revised Penal Code penalizes any person who shall publicly and improperly make use of insignias, uniforms or any dress pertaining to an office not held by that person or to a class of persons of which he or she is not a member.
Meanwhile, Republic Act 493 punishes those using, manufacturing, and selling of insignias, decorations, medals, badges, patches and identification cards prescribed for the AFP by persons not in the service
“We highly encourage the public to report cases of violations of RA 493 and Article 179 of the Revised Penal Code to proper authorities. We must instill pride in the service and in the uniform and accord it due respect,” said Tiongson