MANILA, Philippines — There is no order for the military to arrest critics of the Commission on Elections (Comelec), the spokesperson of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) clarified Monday morning.
“Wala po, wala po tayong natanggap na gano’ng kautusan (None, we have not received such a directive),” AFP spokesperson Col. Ramon Zagala said in an ABS-CBN Teleradyo interview.
“Like I said, we will support the PNP. Ang PNP ang tamang organization na may law enforcement function. Ang function ng AFP to support law enforcement — kung meron po silang aarestuhin at hindi nila kaya, saka lamang kami tutulong para to assist. Ang pinaka-duty po natin is to support law enforcement,” he added.
(Like I said, we will support the PNP. The PNP is the organization with the law enforcement function. The function of the AFP is to support law enforcement — if they need assistance in arresting someone, then we will be there to assist. Our duty is to support law enforcement.)
Comelec Commissioner Rey Bulay earlier said that critics of the Comelec who are insinuating that the poll body is partnering with any candidate or supporters of any bet in rigging the 2022 general elections can be arrested.
Bulay issued the warning last April 22, and said that Comelec would not hesitate to ask the AFP, “which is now under Comelec control”, to arrest critics.
Zagala also confirmed that the bulk of military personnel tapped for election-related duty will be sent to Mindanao, which has the most number of identified areas of concern.
“Sa ngayon no ang pinaka-marami ay nasa Mindanao area kasi nandyan po ang na-identify ng Comelec kung saan marami tayong grave concern na area. So ‘yan po ay nandito po nasa Mindanao although meron din po almost all regions, meron po tayong naka-deploy dahil halos lahat no’ng regions na-identify na merong grave concern na area,” he said.
(As of now most of the personnel were deployed in the Mindanao area which has numerous identified areas of concern, although almost all regions will also have deployments since they also have areas of concern.)