Comelec critics warned: Poll body can have AFP arrest, jail you

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Apr 23 2022 01:45 PM | Updated as of Apr 23 2022 03:22 PM

Commissioner Rey Bulay speaks during the Comelec briefing at their headquarters on April 22, 2022 as they announced of the postponement of their latest 2022 Presidential and Vice Presidential debates. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News.
Commissioner Rey Bulay speaks during the Comelec briefing at their headquarters on April 22, 2022 as they announced of the postponement of their latest 2022 Presidential and Vice Presidential debates. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News.

MANILA – Comelec Commissioner Rey Bulay on Friday warned those accusing the election body of favoring any candidate in the 2022 elections that they could be arrested and jailed. 

“’Yun po nagko-comment ng public opinion na ang Comelec ay may sina-side-an, kinakampihan at mandadaya, ako po ay nagwa-warning sa inyo.” Bulay said.

“We will not hesitate to call upon the AFP (Armed Forces of the Philippines) na ngayon sa panahong ito ay nasa ilalim ng control ng Comelec na patulan at ipahuli at ipakulong kayo ’yung manggugulo sa eleksyon na ito.”
 
Bulay made the warning despite the Writ of Habeas Corpus still being in effect during elections, which would allow citizens recourse against detention without formal charges. 

“Kami ay nasa side ng batas kaya kung ang isip niyo ay manggugulo sa resulta ng election na ito, ang gusto po namin sampu ng kasama ko sa committee at kay chairman ay isang credible malinis mapayapang election,“ he added.

“Kaya I am personally issuing this warring … Ako po ay dating hepe ng piskalya ng Maynila. Di ako magdadalawang-isip na kasuhan kayo sa panggugulo.”

His statement came after a fellow Comelec commissioner, Socorro Inting, slammed as “unnecessary” a call by the group "AIM Alumni for Leni" for non-partisanship and honest, orderly and peaceful elections.

The group addressed its call to the Comelec, the electoral boards that will administer the elections in voting precincts, the Department of Education, the Philippine National Police, the Armed Forces of the Philippines, and all deputized agencies supporting the poll body.

“We, the representatives of the Asian Institute of Management Alumni for Leni, ask all charged with administering the elections to be non-partisan. You are tasked to make voting safe, to ensure that voting is secret, and to protect the will of the voters as expressed in the ballot,” the group said.

“Our collective interest is for our candidates to be elected through a credible process. When elections are credible, the results will be accepted, and the transition to the new government will be peaceful and orderly.”

Detained Sen. Leila De Lima, who is running under Robredo's slate, called the remark "uncalled for and illegal." 

She also described it as a lack of respect for the constitution, saying Bulay's remarks were "disturbing." 

"Under the Constitution, the only time the AFP is allowed to exercise the law enforcement powers of the PNP, like arresting people, is when the Commander-in-Chief calls out the AFP to suppress lawless violence," De Lima said in a press release. 

"Neither Bulay nor the COMELEC is the Commander-in-Chief. Not even during elections. The COMELEC’s deputization power during elections certainly does not include the power to use the AFP in stifling criticisms and suppressing free speech," she added. 

 – With a report by RG Cruz, ABS-CBN News