The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) is planning legal action against a female comedian who wore a military uniform at a protest.
According to the government-run Philippine News Agency, Mae Paner, better known as ‘Juana Change’ was in violation of several laws when she appeared in camouflage garb outside President Duterte’s State of the Nation Address on Monday.
Brigadier General Restituto Padilla said today (Thursday, July 27) that she had “inappropriately used our military uniform and disrespected it since she is not a member of the AFP nor a part of our Reservists Corps.”
He continued: “Her act of illegally using an AFP uniform is in violation of Article 179 of the RPC (Revised Penal Code) (or the Unauthorised Use of Uniforms) and RA (Republic Act) 493 (or the Prohibition of Use of Insignias, Decorations, Badges and patches prescribed for the AFP.
“We will take the necessary legal action to hold Ms Paner accountable.”
He added that each of the comedian’s public appearances in uniform would count as a separate violation and “compound her legal liabilities”.
A separate statement released by AFP officials urged civilians not to wear military uniform without authorisation, because it “impacts negatively on the image of the Philippine Army and the Armed Forces of the Philippines”.
The statement also pointed to the security implications of wearing military garb, as “lawless elements have often worn military uniforms to carry out atrocious activities”.
The statement continued: “We must instil pride in the service and in the uniform and accord it due respect.”
If found guilty, the comedian could face a jail sentence of up to two years.
Today she updated her Facebook page, thanking both her supporters and detractors for the attention.
“Thank you for the love and attention. Supporters and bashers please deepen the discourse. I [heart] U,” she wrote.