Military won’t file case vs Juana Change anymore, says Uson is becoming an AFP reservist

A day after releasing a statement about pursuing a legal case versus actress and political activities Mae “Juana Change” Paner, the Armed Forces of the Philippines changed its mind.  
AFP Spokesperson Brig. Gen. Restituto Padilla said that after the “thorough review of the case,” as ordered by AFP Chief Gen. Eduardo Año, they learned that Paner was actually praising the Filipino soldiers, not ridiculing them.  

“Last night, the Chief of Staff General 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,” Padilla said, reading the AFP’s statement during the Mindanao Hour briefing in Malacañang on July 28.  

Upon receiving information that the activist donned the military uniform “in the interest of the arts, being a recognized comedian,” they will no longer pursue a case against her but advised her and other individuals “to desist from the inappropriate use of our uniforms,” Padilla added.  

“She and the others must understand that the particular uniform she wore is the battle dress attire of our armed forces,” he said. 

Explaining why the military consider the uniform “very sacred,” he explained, “It is the same uniform our soldiers wear whenever we go to battle and the same uniform many of our heroes die wearing in the battlefield and in the defense of the Motherland and our people. This is the very reason we hold this particular uniform very sacred.” 

The AFP statement also included an invitation for her to become a reservist.  
“If it is her desire to extol the sacrifice, gallantry and dedication to duty of all soldiers and help recruit more patriotic Filipinos to the armed forces, your armed forces 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 added. 

The AFP earlier said that Paner violated RA 493, which prohibits the use of military titles or grades by individuals who are not in the service, and Article 179 of the Revised Penal Code (Unauthorized Use of Uniforms). 

Section 2 of RA 493 states that persons who are not in the military are not allowed 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.” 

Those who violate the penal code will be penalized with an arresto mayor, or imprisonment of one month and one day to six months. Those who violate RA 493 may be required to pay P100 to P2,000 in fine, or imprisonment of not less than one month and not more than two years, or even both.  

Paner wore a military uniform during a rally against martial law on July 24, the same day President Rodrigo Duterte delivered his second State of the Nation Address (SONA). She was even featured on the first page of the Philippine Star, July 27 issue, after the AFP threatened to sue her for “disrespecting” their uniform.  

Some netizens have pointed out that Communications Undersecretary Mocha Uson has also worn fatigues before.  

However, Padilla defended Uson, noting that she only wore fatigues that “can be bought commercially,” not the military’s regulation uniform. He also added that Uson will soon become a military reservist.  

Before the AFP changed their mind about filing a case against Paner, several people came to her defense, including De La Salle professor and known Duterte supporter, Prof. Antonio Contreras.  

“Whenever Mae Juana Change Paner appears in rallies, she is playing a role as a performance activist. Her donning a military uniform is not technically impersonating an army soldier, but she is only playing a role,” he said in a Facebook post on July 26..  

He reiterated the same defense for Paner, emphasizing on her right as an artist to do so.  

Contreras even said earlier that suing Paner and Uson for wearing fatigues will “force the court to rule on this matter so that the metes and bounds of artistic freedom be finally delineated.”  

Manila Bulletin columnist Tonyo Cruz also defended Paner, pointing out that she was merely performing “protest art.”  

Facebook user Jonathan Lorca Caiña even posted a photo of comedian Vice Ganda wearing fatigues. His comment section also showed a photo of the Mocha Girls wearing fatigue pants while performing.  

Issues about Paner wearing a military uniform got the spotlight when a post by the Philippine Army Recruitment Office went viral. They criticized Paner’s move, which they considered “disrespectful” to the soldiers who shed blood, sweat, and tears to wear the uniform.  

Sources: ( , )

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