Bill mandates tougher sanctions vs cops and soldiers on ‘improper’ use of uniform

(BUSINESS MIRROR) SENATOR Jinggoy Estrada is pressing for the timely passage of an enabling law seeking to impose tougher sanctions against misuse of police and military uniforms.

In filing Senate Bill 2149, Estrada alerted both government and the public to “beware of the falsities and misrepresentation of people who pretend to be uniformed personnel by wearing police and military uniforms, even using insignias as accessories.”

The Estrada bill provides sanctions against persons outside of the police and military forces that would be caught illegally wearing uniforms, warning “violators face more serious penalties for the offense.”

In filing Senate Bill 2149, Estrada proposed to have the current penalty of arresto mayor, which carries the penalty of imprisonment of one month and one day to six months, “escalated to prision mayor in its minimum and medium periods or a jail term of six years and one day to 10 years.”

The bill also provides that the current penalty under Article 179 of the Revised Penal Code is “not commensurate to the kind of offense committed and the damage that may be incurred to the victim, especially if the accused is a public official.”

“If the perpetrator is a public official, the penalty to be imposed shall be prision mayor in its maximum period,” said Estrada, who also chairs the Senate Committee on National Defense and Security.

Recalling that he had been pushing for the approval of his proposal since the 14th Congress, Estrada assured “this measure is also aimed at harmonizing the provisions under Republic Act 493, the law prohibiting the use or conferring of military or naval grades or titles by or upon persons not in service of the AFP [Armed Forces of the Philippines] and Philippine Constabulary, now the Philippine National Police [PNP].”

Moreover, Estrada had filed a separate Senate Bill 2151, proposing the expansion of the coverage of Republic Act 493 to include the ban on the use, wearing, manufacture, and sale of uniforms and textiles of uniforms of the members of the AFP, PNP and Philippine Coast Guard.

 “Not a few came to my office complaining that persons, wearing uniforms and/or using insignia pretending to be police officers, accosted and extorted money from them,” the senator said, noting that “it is also common that private individuals pretend to be police officers by wearing uniforms and/or using insignia in perpetrating serious crimes like kidnapping, robbery, or even murder to avoid resistance from the victims.”

The lawmaker justified imposing tougher penalties to PNP violators, saying: “Mas mabigat na parusa ang dapat kaharapin nila dahil hindi lamang nila dinudungisan ang imahe ng ating mga alagad ng batas, paglapastangan din ito sa mga sumisimbolo ng disiplina, organisasyon at kahusayan ng mga taong nanumpa ng katapatan sa bandila, sa publiko at sa bansa.”