Civilians in police, military uniform to be arrested

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The police will arrest and investigate civilians wearing military or police uniform as part of the move to prevent the infiltration of lawless elements into this city.

Insp. Edwin Duco, Zamboanga City Police Office (ZCPO) information officer, on Thursday said civilians wearing military or police uniforms will be accosted at checkpoints and will be undressed if necessary.

Duco said the move is to deny easy access into this city to lawless elements, particularly the Abu Sayyaf bandits, by impersonating as soldiers and policemen like what happened more than seven years ago in Isabela City, Basilan.

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Bombs exploded one after the other in three areas–near the residence of a judge, athletic field track oval and Church courtyard–between 10:30 a.m. to 11 a.m. on April 13, 2010.

The bombings was followed by firefight between government troops and Abu Sayyaf bandits clad in police and military uniforms.

Duco said that soldiers and policemen are the only ones authorize to wear military and police including camouflage uniforms.

In most instances, civilians can be seen going around the city on foot or driving motorcycle clad in camouflage jackets or pants.

“They will be investigated and will be charged for usurpation of authority,” Duco said.

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The wearing of military or police uniforms by unauthorized persons is a violation of Articles 177 (Usurpation of Authority or Official Functions) and 179 (Illegal Use of Uniforms or Insignia) of the Revised Penal Code of the Philippines that imposes imprisonment terms for violators.

Duco also advised policemen and soldiers to refrain from using military jackets and other accessories whenever they are off duty.

The ZCPO and the Task Force Zamboanga had been on alert against possible spillover of violence as government troops continue to pursue the Abu Sayyaf bandits in the provinces of Basilan and Sulu.

Also, the alert level has been raised since the start of the fighting in Marawi City on June 23 between the Maute group and Abu Sayyaf bandits.

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A policy of “No ID, No Entry” is in effect since then in this city. (Teofilo P. Garcia Jr./PNA)

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