Gibo Teodoro

After China’s claims of a recorded call, Teodoro asks: Did its embassy violate PH law?

Bea Cupin

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After China’s claims of a recorded call, Teodoro asks: Did its embassy violate PH law?

PHILIPPINE DEFENSE CHIEF. Philippine Defense Secretary Gibo Teodoro addresses senators in this file photo.

Photo by Joseph B. Vidal/Senate

(UPDATED) Even as he expresses doubt over the authenticity of the supposed recording of a phone call with the Western Command’s chief, the Philippines’ defense chief points out: wiretapping is a crime

MANILA, Philippines – Philippine Defense Secretary Gilbert “Gibo” Teodoro Jr., on Wednesday, May 9, said he doubted the authenticity of a supposed audio recording that Chinese officials claim “proves” a supposed agreement to manage tensions in the South China Sea. 

Diumano, may pahayag ang Chinese embassy sa Pilipinas na mayroon kunong alleged recording sa isang kawani ng Armed Forces of the Philippines (The Chinese embassy in the Philippines claimed to have an alleged recording of one of the Armed Forces of the Philippines’ personnel)the authenticity of which I doubt – given the propensity of the Chinese government to engage in malign information activities,” said Teodoro, speaking to reporters on the sidelines of a maritime security symposium in Quezon City.  

Kung itong statement ay totoong galing sa Chinese embassy na sila ay nag-recording ng sinuman sa Pilipinas, sila ay umaamin na lumabag sila sa batas ng Republika ng Pilipinas, particularly the Anti-Wire Tapping Law,” he added. 

(If this statement from the Chinese embassy is true, that they recorded a conversation with whomever while here in the Philippines, then they are admitting to breaking Philippine laws, particularly the Anti-Wire Tapping Law.)

Teodoro was referring to an alleged recording of a January 3 phone conversation between an unnamed Chinese diplomat and Western Command chief Vice Admiral Alberto Carlos, in which the Philippine general supposedly agreed to what Beijing calls a “new model” for dealing with tensions in Ayungin Shoal. 

Under Philippine law, it is illegal to “secretly overhear, intercept, or record” private communication or spoken word without the consent of all people and parties involved. 

Teodoro added that if the recording is real, then its existence is proof that the Chinese embassy in Manila “violated international relations and Philippine law.” 

Dahil hindi sila nakipag-ugnayan sa Department of Foreign Affairs at sila’y umoperate na pailalim kung totoo ito (They did not work with the Department of Foreign Affairs and they operated covertly),” he added. 

The defense secretary said it was up to the DFA to investigate what happened and find out if the Chinese embassy actually violated Philippine laws. 

Dapat alamin kung sino ang responsable rito at alisin sa Republika ng Pilipinas (We need to find out who is responsible for this and remove them from the country),” added Teodoro.

A copy of the transcript was shared to both Bloomberg News and the Philippine-based Manila Times. The Times said the recording and transcript of the conversation came from a “ranking Chinese official,” although the paper also admitted it could not confirm if Carlos was the other person on the line. 

Philippine-based journalists have requested the Chinese embassy in Manila to show proof of the purported recording, but have not received a reply as of posting. Embassy officials did, however, share with media a supposed copy of the transcript as published by the Manila Times.

At the core of the latest word war between the Philippines and China is the BRP Sierra Madre, a World War II warship that was run aground on Ayungin Shoal in the West Philippine Sea back in 1999. The marooned ship is a flashpoint for tensions between the two countries, since Ayungin is claimed by China even if it’s well within the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone. 

Beijing has been claiming that the Philippines reneged on a new agreement, supposedly reached under the Marcos administration, to manage tensions in Ayungin.

The DFA has said no agreement exists, and that only President Ferdinand Marcos Jr., through the department itself, could enter into international agreements. 

Teodoro and National Security Adviser Eduardo Año have denied making, or signing off to, any agreement. 

Teodoro said the defense sector would “fortify” its operational security measures “given the fact na mayroon na talagang disinformation, malign influence, at hindi kanais-nais na mga gawain ng mga ahente ng ibang gobyerno (that there really is disinformation, malign influence, and undesirable acts of agents of other governments).”

In a statement late Wednesday, May 8, the Armed Forces of the Philippines said it would “not dignify” the Chinese embassy’s claim. 

“China’s claim of an audio recording allegedly between Vice Admiral Carlos and a Chinese diplomat does not merit significant concern as it appears to be a malign influence effort from the Chinese Communist Party,” said AFP Chief General Romeo Brawner Jr. in a statement from the military. 

“Transcripts can easily be fabricated, and audio recordings can be manufactured by using deep fakes. These reports only aim to serve as a distraction from the China Coast Guard’s ongoing aggressive behavior in the West Philippine Sea,” he added. 

The AFP also warned against “spreading unverified information that could further escalate tensions or mislead public opinion.”

“The AFP remains to be a professional organization,” added its chief. 

Carlos, who has headed the Western Command since January 2022, is on personal leave and has yet to comment on China’s latest claims. –

1 comment

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  1. ET

    The propaganda war is heating up. These reports are nothing but a smokescreen for the China Coast Guard’s ongoing aggressive behavior in the West Philippine Sea. In addition to this propaganda war, there’s the unjust, one-sided water cannon war. The WPS is a hot topic that should stir our empathy and sympathy for our Naval forces and the Filipino People.

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Bea Cupin

Bea is a senior multimedia reporter who covers national politics. She's been a journalist since 2011 and has written about Congress, the national police, and the Liberal Party for Rappler.