KIDAPAWAN CITY (MindaNews/08 September) – Members of a group calling itself the Royal Armed Forces have been warned they would be imprisoned if they will be seen wearing military uniforms again.
Lt. Col. Harold Cabunoc, commander of the 33rd Infantry Battalion, said he warned 14 members of the group they accosted at a checkpoint along the national highway in Tacurong City on Thursday.
Cabunoc explained that Republic Act 493 prohibits civilians from wearing, using, manufacturing, and selling military uniforms, insignia, medals, and badges prescribed only for soldiers and policemen.
The suspects wore olive green t-shirts and camouflage pants which frightened civilians, he said.
During the investigation they told Cabunoc they were hired by a company to secure an oil exploration project at the Liguasan Marsh in Maguindanao.
Many of them reside in Lutayan town in Sultan Kudarat, and others come from Tantangan in South Cotabato.
Cabunoc said the suspects “bastardized” the military uniforms as they wore sandals instead of combat shoes.
“We are told to wear our uniform with pride. But these men wore Army uniforms with their sandals on,” he said.
The suspects were brought to the Tacurong City police station where they underwent further investigation and profiling. They were released two hours after.
Chief Inspector Benjiel Bajo, deputy director of the Tacurong police, said no charges were filed against the suspects.
When asked if the Army would file charges against members of the Royal Armed Forces, Cabunoc said their arrest was just a “stern” warning that they will be imprisoned if they are again seen wearing military uniforms.
“In my opinion, there is sloppiness in the implementation of RA 493. Under the law, even traders who are caught selling military uniforms without any authorization from the AFP should be arrested and charged,” he said. (Malu Cadelina Manar/MindaNews)