May 15, 2024 People's Journal 104 views

SENATOR Francis “Tol” Tolentino has issued a pressing call to the Senate Committee on National Defense, urging an immediate investigation, in aid of legislation, into the alleged unauthorized wiretapping of the Chinese Embassy in Manila against the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Western Command (WESCOM).

Tolentino has drawn attention to the potential violation of the Chinese Embassy of the Philippine Anti-Wiretapping Act, a grave offense that could ignite diplomatic tensions and trigger significant legal repercussions.

“This act deems it illegal for any individual, not authorized by all parties to a private communication or spoken word, to tap any wire or cable or use devices to secretly overhear, intercept, or record such communication or spoken word,” he said.

In a Senate resolution, Tolentino underscored Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Lin Jian’s announcement in a press conference on May 6 the alleged “new model” for Ren’ai Reef (Second Thomas Shoal) transportation and subsidy that was allegedly approved by the entire command chain of the Philippine military, including the Philippines’ Defense Ministry, National Security Advisor, and others.

China likewise threatened on May 7 to release the transcript and audio recording of an alleged phone conversation on January 3 between Chinese officials and Vice Admiral Alberto Carlos, Chief of the AFP-WESMINCOM.

In the conversation, the latter allegedly agreed to a “new model” for resupply missions to the BRP Sierra Madre.

The recording allegedly discussed the “new model” of conduct in the West Philippine Sea, which was claimed to have been consented to by the top DND and AFP officers, including Defense Secretary Gilberto Teodoro Jr., National Security Adviser Eduardo Aho, and AFP chief of staff Gen. Romeo Brawner.

“It is unlawful for any person, a participant or not in the act or acts penalized, to knowingly possess any tape record, wire record, disc record, or any other such record, or copies of any communication or spoken word secured either before or after the effective date of this Act in the manner prohibited by this law,” the lawmaker said.

On the same day China threatened to release the transcript and audio recording, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) issued a statement emphasizing that only the President of the Republic of the Philippines can approve or authorize agreements entered into by the Philippine government on matters pertaining to the West Philippine Sea and South China Sea.

The statement said: “In this respect, the DFA can confirm that no cabinet-level official of the Marcos Administration has agreed to any Chinese proposal pertaining to the Ayungin Shoal. As far as the Philippine Government is concerned, no such document, record, or deal exists, as purported by the Chinese Embassy.”

Tolentino calls on the Philippine authorities to take appropriate action to determine the extent of China’s interference in some of our critical infrastructure that may undermine our national security, make an accounting of all our vital infrastructure, and provide remedial measures to address such interference to minimize if it cannot at all prevent the same.

He said the Senate probe on the alleged wiretapping of the Chinese Embassy in Manila against the AFP-WESCOM by the Committee on National Defense has the end view of reviewing RA No. 4200 as well as the rules and regulations, and protocols of government officials while dealing with foreign officials.