Re-elected Rep. Raul V. Del Mar of first District of Cebu City vowed to push for the passage of a bill penalizing the indiscriminate wearing of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the Philippine National Police (PNP) uniform by civilians.
Del Mar re-filed the measure that seeks to amend Republic Act No. 493 to provide a strong and effective deterrent to crimes associated with the illegal use of AFP and PNP uniforms.
The bill widens the coverage of the law to include the ban on the use and wearing of military and police or imitations and the manufacture and sale of military/police uniforms or imitations and the textile for these uniforms.
Under the bill, violators face a jail term of 10 years and a fine of Php20,000 for the use and wearing of military and police or imitations, while a five-year imprisonment and a fine of Php10,000 would be imposed for the unauthorized sale of military and police uniforms to civilian and the production of textile, which is being used for the production of the uniforms.
Del Mar said oftentimes, criminals facilitate the commission of their crimes by wearing AFP and PNP uniforms. This misrepresentation has also caused damage to the reputation of the military and the police.
He said RA 493 regulates the wearing, using, manufacturing and selling of insignias, decorations and medals, badges, patches and identification cards prescribed for the AFP and Philippine Constabulary, now the Philippine National Police, by persons not in the service.
However, he said the prohibition under RA 493 does not cover the use and wearing of military/police uniforms as well as the manufacture and sale of military/police uniforms and the textile for these uniforms.
Del Mar also said the use of military and/or police uniforms and accessories has been prohibited under special law and the Revised Penal Code of the Philippines.
Article 177 prohibits any person to falsely represent himself as officer, agent or representative of any department or agency of the Philippine Government, he said.
Article 179 of the Revised Penal Code provides that any person who publicly and improperly makes use of insignia, uniforms or dress pertaining to an office not held by such person or to class of persons of which he is not a member shall be penalized by arresto mayor.
Del Mar said Article 179 of the Revised Penal Code of the Philippines is universal to all departments of agencies of the Philippine Government. Moreover, the penalties provided by these laws are perceived to be light.
Del Mar said unauthorized persons have taken advantage of the proliferation of imitations of uniforms bearing close resemblance to the official military and police uniforms to falsely represent themselves as members of the AFP or the PNP.
Under the bill, the Departments of National Defense (DND) and the Interior and Local Government (DILG) shall revise and promulgate the Rules and Regulations necessary to ensure the effective implementations of the Republic Act No. 492 as amended by this Act.