AFP to file charges vs. activist over use of military garb

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, July 28) — The armed forces said it will "take legal action" against activist Mae Paner after she wore the military uniform during the President's second state of the nation address.

"Ms. Mae Paner, popularly known as Juana Change, has inappropriately used our military uniform and disrespected it since she is not a member of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) nor a part of our reservists corps," AFP Spokesperson Brig. Gen. Restituto Padilla said in a statement, Thursday.

Padilla cited Article 179 of the Revised Penal Code, which prohibits the use of insignia, uniforms, or dress of an office of which a person is not a member.

He also took note of Republic Act 493 which tackles the same, only more specific on the AFP and the Philippine Constabulary.

In her Twitter account, Paner took note of celebrities wearing the uniform in movies and television shows.

"Ang pamantayan kay Juana, ganun din kay Mocha, Cardo at Praybeyt Benjamin. Gets?" she said.

[Translation: The standards for Juana are also the standards for Mocha Uson, Cardo and Praybeyt Benjamin. You got it?]


Presidential Communications and Operations Office Asec. Margaux "Mocha" Uson once wore the military uniform when she accompanied President Rodrigo Duterte to visit soldiers.

Other netizens also took note of this, calling it a "double standard."



"Guys ganito 'yan [Here's how it is, guys]. Mae Paner and Mocha Uson are differentiated by their looks. We let attractive people get away with bullsh*t," a Twitter user said.


Meanwhile, "Cardo" is a fictional police in a network's television show, "Ang Probinsyano," portrayed by Coco Martin.

"Praybeyt Benjamin" (Private Benjamin) is a 2011 comedy movie starred by Vice Ganda where he plays a gay who joined the military.

But Padilla said Paner's "malicious intent betrays her motive."

"She must first read the cited laws in order to understand why she is being held liable," the AFP spokesperson said.

Paner, in a Facebook post, said the military is preserving something other than the uniform.

"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," she said.

[Translation: Those who hate me for wearing the military's uniform in my performance are not protecting the uniform itself, rather, the President they look up to the most.]


De La Salle University professor and political analyst Antonio Contreras defended Paner, saying she is known as a performance activist and is only "playing a role."

"Mae and I have political differences, but this will not stop me from saying that the provision in the Revised Penal Code does not apply. Otherwise all actors playing the role of a soldier will be liable," Contreras said in his Facebook account.


Blogger and columnist Tonyo Cruz, meanwhile, said the lawsuit will "open Pandora's box of military top brass' many acts of disrespect of uniform and oath."


Paner is known for performing satire acts in protest actions. She posted on her Facebook page, saying the arts can open the eyes of the people, and asked "supporters and bashers" to "deepen the discourse" on the issue.