MANILA – The Philippine Army has released a statement on the stunt of activist and performer Mae Paner (stage name Juana Change), wearing military uniform in protest of President Rodrigo Duterte’s second State of the Nation Address on Monday. The Army said the act “impacts negatively” on its image, and had “security implications”.
This, after the Armed Forces of the Philippines said it would pursue legal action against her for using the military uniform, BusinessWorld reported on Thursday.
In a separate statement, AFP spokesperson Brigadier General Restituto Padilla said Paner disrespected their military uniform.
The Philippine Army said the act was a violation of Article 179 of the Revised Penal Code, which reads: “Illegal use of uniforms or insignia. — 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 of which he is not a member.”
It added that this was also a violation of Republic Act 493, which reads, “(I)t shall be unlawful for any person not in the service of the Armed Forces of the Philippines or the Philippine Constabulary… to use or wear the duly prescribed insignia, badge or emblem or rank of the members of the Armed Forces of the Philippines or the Philippine Constabulary, or any colorable imitation thereof.”
The Philippine Army explained, “Lawless elements have often worn military uniforms to carry out atrocious activities or impersonating as soldiers for other criminal purposes.”
It added, “The military uniform is a symbol of authority that must be used properly and with dignity.”
But how about Mocha’s use of uniform?
Meanwhile, authorities may find themselves in an awkward position if they run after Paner. At least one Netizen has pointed out that Presidential Communications Assistant Secretary Mocha Uson herself likes to wear fatigues. Her official Twitter account bears a photo of her in a camouflage-print top. Photo below from @MochaUson on Twitter.
Paner is known for donning costumes as part of her activism, having worn a terno as though she was the former first lady Imelda Marcos at a rally against the burial of former President Ferdinand Marcos at the Libingan ng mga Bayani; a hat in the form of an aging Philippine ship at a rally against Chinese occupation of the West Philippine Sea; and a pig mask at a rally for the abolition of pork barrel.
She also acts in plays and movies.
During the SONA, she played the character of Major Juana Change, and shared photos on Facebook of her march with Leftist protesters against extrajudicial killings, martial law, militarization of lumad communities, and other issues.
In response to critics, she wrote on Facebook: “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. Nakakaawa rin kayo mga DDS (Die-hard Duterte Supporters) na ayaw nang maging kritikal sa pag-iisip (Those who are angry at me for using the military uniform in my performance are not protecting the uniform, but their most idolized President of the land. I pity you DDS, because you do not want to think critically).”
“I need lawyers. Fight!” she said in another post.
The Philippine Army called on the public to report cases of violations to the proper authorities, saying, “We must instill pride in the service and in the uniform and accord it due respect.”