FROM LEFT: PCG deputy commandant for operations VAdm. Eduardo Fabricante, PNP chief P/Gen. Dionardo Carlos, COMELEC acting chairperson Commissioner Socorro Inting, and AFP chief of staff Gen. Andres Centino during the signing of the Joint Letter Directive (JLD) No. 01-2022 on February 7, 2022, at Camp Crame in Quezon City. (Photo by TSg Obinque PAF/ PAOAFP)

Law enforcement agencies in the country agreed Monday to form a unified “legal” partnership to counter groups that may threaten the upcoming national and local elections.

The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), the Philippine National Police (PNP), and the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) signed Joint Letter Directive (JLD) No. 01-2022 to follow a joint legal cooperation that would enhance their coordination in “building up cases, investigation of crimes perpetrated by, and successful prosecution of leaders, members, and supporters of threat groups and their financers”.

AFP chief of staff Gen. Andres Centino, PNP chief P/Gen. Dionardo Carlos, and PCG deputy commandant for operations VAdm. Eduardo Fabricante signed the JLD during the 2nd Commission on Elections (COMELEC) Command Conference on February 7 that was presided by acting chairperson Commissioner Socorro Inting at Camp Crame in Quezon City.

The event was witnessed virtually by unit field commanders from the three law enforcement agencies.

A statement released by the AFP claimed the legal cooperation will also “guide the identification and disposition of surrendered, recovered, and confiscated firearms following the chain of custody”.

It will be implemented under the tripartite mechanism of the Joint Peace and Security Coordinating Center (JPSCC).

The statement cited Centino, who emphasized in his message that the AFP’s marching orders from President Rodrigo Duterte is to “finish-off the communist insurgency before the his term ends, and ensure the conduct of safe election”.

“We came up with a plan to have sufficient forces to perform these two tasks. We have designated units to go after the armed groups. We want these units’ operations to go unhampered,” said Centino, adding that those who will not be joining these operations will be deployed on election duty.

“We look forward to having a secure election. We would like to ensure that the process will be safeguarded, and that’s the best thing that the AFP, PNP, and PCG can give to our country,” he added.

The conference also included presentations on the gun ban’s implementation, threat assessment and evaluation of electoral hotspots, and other topics.

COMELEC’s Inting commended all the uniformed personnel for their roles during the election.

“I am confident that, in the performance of your functions concerning the coming elections, our uniformed personnel shall always remain professional and non-partisan,” she said. “From the manning of COMELEC checkpoints and implementation of the gun ban, down to the determination of hotspots and dismantling of private armed groups, the responsibility of our uniformed personnel is a heavy one and thus deserves commendation,” the commissioner said.