NEW PNP CHIEF. Lt. Gen. Dionardo Carlos (right) takes over as the new chief of the Philippine National Police (PNP) in a ceremony led by DILG Secretary Eduardo Año (middle) in Camp Crame, Quezon City on Friday (Nov. 12, 2021). Carlos replaced Gen. Guillermo Eleazar (left) who retired from the service. (Photo courtesy of PNP)

MANILA – As he assumed command of the more than 220,000-strong Philippine National Police (PNP), Lt. Gen. Dionardo Carlos said he has big shoes to fill.

"First, I must now fill in the shoes of my predecessor, my Big Brother, Police General Guillermo Lorenzo Eleazar whose sterling leadership and hard work elevated the police service to greater levels of performance and achievement, bringing back the people’s trust and confidence in the police force, all of which I must now sustain or further enhance," Carlos said in his assumption speech as the country's 27th top cop at the PNP headquarters in Camp Crame, Quezon City on Friday.

Carlos replaced Eleazar, who will officially retire from the service upon reaching the mandatory retirement age of 56 on Saturday.

The new PNP chief is expected to take on the challenge of assisting the government's coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic and securing next year's elections.

"We remain in the midst of addressing a tremendous crisis in the form of an unseen enemy, the Covid-19 pandemic, that has been adversely affecting lives and livelihoods across the nation. This is a first in PNP history, and as we strive to embrace the new normal, I will face the challenges that this situation brings, together with every member of the police force with greater fortitude and determination," he added.

Carlos also vowed to do his best in ensuring that the May 9, 2022 elections will be peaceful and orderly.

"Our nation is once again turning a new page in its history with the forthcoming national elections and I now lead the PNP in ensuring the orderly and peaceful exercise of our people’s right to vote. And fourth, the Filipino people deserve nothing less than the best service from the PNP, I commit the remaining months of my service to performing my mandate, to serve and protect my countrymen with all the effort I can muster and with a full and sincere heart for service," he added.

Carlos also vowed to focus on the tasks besetting the PNP until the end of his term and ensure that all police personnel will perform professionally.

"Our battlecry, 'to serve and protect' will remain louder and stronger than ever. Building on the gains of the past PNP administration, I will ensure that every member of the police force will remain on his toes in performing the PNP mandate as we continue to fight criminality, illegal drugs, insurgency and terrorism, and corruption without fear or favor and with greater might and vigor," he added.

He also vowed to sustain the relentless campaign against criminality and illegal drugs.

"We are not resting on our laurels, but are instead even more challenged to surpass the gains we have achieved, and provide a truly safe and peaceful environment where every Filipino can live and work without fear of crime or lawlessness in his heart," he added.

He also assured the implementation of a stronger "Enhanced Managing Police Operations" programs against criminality and the "Double Barrel Finale Version 2021 against illegal drugs.

Carlos also said he will not let lawless elements take advantage of eased quarantine restrictions to prey on those returning to work and performing other essential tasks out of their homes.

"The fight against insurgency, terrorism and the dismantling of private armed groups will receive a new shot in the arm as we prepare for the national elections. We will further develop and strengthen our Area Police Commands to make our operations on the ground more focused and aggressive as we strive to further deny insurgents, terrorists and private armed groups the opportunity to sow terror in our communities especially during the election period," he added.

Carlos said he would also continue the Internal Cleanliness Policy implemented by his predecessor.

"The Intensified Cleanliness Policy of General Eleazar will remain in high gear. Every problem regardless of its severity will be addressed with the same attention and intensity. Walang maliit o malaking problema, lahat ay bibigyan natin ng sapat at kaukulang atensyon. I expect the same enthusiasm and energy given to keeping every police station clean and orderly for this is a reflection of the true heart of the PNP," he added.

Carlos will serve as PNP chief until his retirement on May 8, 2022.

Meanwhile, Eleazar expressed confidence that Carlos will be able to continue the legacies of all the past PNP chiefs to improve services to the people.

"To continue making our kababayans feel safer and showing the Filipino people that we are their big brothers when it comes to safety. I will leave with peace of mind knowing that my successor is worthy of becoming the 27th chief of the PNP and knowing that the entire organization will rally behind the leadership, " Eleazar said

He also expressed gratitude to Interior Secretary Eduardo Año for his trust and confidence on him.

"Let me express my deepest gratitude for believing in my capability to lead the PNP. My pride and honor to have served under your leadership. The saddest part of the retirement is they say if the retiree has no good memories and no proud moments to look back to. As I bow of service today serving 38 years, I will take with me the good memories of how as your Chief PNP in the last six months the men and women of the PNP believed in me and supported me in the main goal of continuously bringing back the integrity and dignity of the PNP," Eleazar noted. (PNA)