Impostors beware: Stiffer penalties sought for civilians in police, military uniforms

(INQUIRER) MANILA, Philippines — Senator Jinggoy Estrada on Thursday said civilians who will be caught wearing police and military uniforms should face stiffer penalties.

Estrada, chairperson of the Senate committee on national defense, filed Senate Bill (SB) 2149, proposing to push the current penalty for the offense to prision mayor or imprisonment of six years and one day to 10 years for minimum and medium periods.

Under Article 179 of the Revised Penal Code, the current penalty for the offense is arresto mayor or one month and one day to at least six months of imprisonment. 

“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,” said Estrada in a statement, stressing that the “poor” and “uneducated countrymen” are usual victims of this violation. 

The lawmaker, however, stressed that if the perpetrator is a public official, the penalty shall be prision mayor in its maximum period. 

“Mas mabigat na parusa ang dapat kaharapin nila dahil hindi lamang nila dinungisan ang imahe ng ating mga alagad ng batas, paglapastangan din ito sa disiplina, organisasyon at kahusayan ng mga taong nanumpa ng katapatan sa bandila, sa publiko at sa bansa,” he added. 

(They should face heavier punishment because they are tarnishing our law enforcement officers’ image and defaming the discipline, organization, and efficiency of those who have sworn allegiance to the flag, the public, and the country.)

Estrada added that he filed the bill after several individuals went to his office complaining about civilians pretending to be police officers and extorting money from them.

“It is also common that private individuals pretend to be police officers by wearing uniforms and using insignia in perpetrating serious crimes like kidnapping, robbery, or even murder to avoid resistance from the victims,” Estrada said.

Estrada claimed he has been pushing and filing for this legislation since the 14th Congress.