(File photo)

MANILA – As the withdrawal and substitution of candidates ended on Monday, newly-appointed Philippine National Police (PNP) Chief, Gen. Dionardo Carlos, and Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Chief-of-Staff, Lt. Gen. Andres Centino, pledged to do everything in their authority to ensure that the May 9, 2022 national and local elections would be peaceful and orderly.

“Ang task natin (Our task) ahead is the 2022 national and local elections so all the preparations are going to be there. Marami na tayong dinaanan na mga eleksyon (we have gone through a lot of elections) and we continue to tweak and do the best practices,” Carlos said during his first morning flag ceremony as PNP chief in Camp Crame, Quezon City.

He is the PNP's 27th chief until his retirement on May 8, 2022.

Carlos said part of the PNP's campaign to ensure the orderly and honest conduct of next year's elections is the aggressive campaign against loose firearms and the accounting of private armed groups in various parts of the country.

He also reminded all police officers to stay neutral and non-partisan in the conduct of elections and that their only role in the upcoming elections is to ensure peace and security.

“From there, tuloy tuloy na kung sino yung aming dapat ilipat dahil may kamag-anak silang tumatakbo and then mga field commanders natin na umupo na dun sa kanyang puwesto ng isang taon o mahigit ay titingnan natin, ia-assess natin sila but again inaalis natin yung familiarity doon sa incumbent nakaupo kaya nagkakaroon tayo ng rotation policy. Matagal na naming ginagawa ito (We will continue evaluating those who need to be transferred because they have relatives running for electoral posts, and assess those field commanders who have served for a year or more. We will be assessing them but we will transfer them to remove any familiarity with the incumbent. That is why we have a long-standing rotational policy)," he added.

Carlos said all police officers on active duty should remain apolitical even in their social media posts and refrain from campaigning for or against any political aspirant.

“Is there a violation of the Omnibus Election Law? If they violate, we charge them, we remove them, investigate them, let them answer for that,” he said.

During his first command conference, Carlos said he has ordered the PNP to conduct the better implementation of anti-criminality, anti-illegal drugs, anti-corruption and counter-insurgency, counter-terrorism operations and the dismantling of private armed groups, which will contribute to the peace and order of next year's polls.

Meanwhile, Centino said beyond the remaining insurgency threat, the military also needs to safeguard next year's elections.

"Beyond insurgency, there is the task of safeguarding the upcoming elections, which are always a turning point for the country," he added.

Centino also said it is the AFP's duty to ensure that the polls are carried out peacefully and orderly.

"It is the AFP's duty to ensure that the will of the people is carried out. Let us all support the national government to ensure a fair, honest, peaceful and secure national elections," he added. (With report from Priam Nepomuceno/PNA)