Press Release
April 23, 2022

Dispatch from Crame No. 1,253:
Sen. Leila M. de Lima on COMELEC Commissioner Bulay's threat to use the AFP against those who criticize the COMELEC's handling of the elections


The threat of COMELEC Commissioner Rey Bulay to use the AFP to arrest those who criticize and complain about the handling of the elections by the poll body is uncalled for and illegal.

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.

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.

In the first place, why is there a need to arrest, or even threaten to arrest, people who are merely exercising their Constitutional right to freedom of speech and to petition the government for redress of grievances? Anong klaseng mga tao at abogado ba ang mga nasa poder ngayon? The lack of respect for the Constitution is disturbing, to say the least.

It is particularly worrisome that a sitting COMELEC Commissioner is entirely ignorant of the limits of the COMELEC's powers over the AFP during elections as to usurp even the CIC powers of the President and use the AFP to bully the people. It is doubly worrisome that none of the Commissioners present with him at the COMELEC presscon yesterday even bothered to correct him. ###

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