By Darryl John Esguerra

President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. (PNA photo by Joan Bondoc)

MANILA – President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. has vowed to investigate the alleged wiretapping of the Chinese Embassy in Manila against the Armed Forces of the Philippines-Western Command (AFP-Wescom).

“We are looking into it because the fact of the matter is there have been mentions of a tape to (try to confirm) confirms that there was this agreement (between China and the Philippines),” Marcos said in a media interview Saturday night.

Marcos said it is still early to come up with any conclusion until he hears for himself the contents of the supposed wiretapping.

“It’s in the possession of the Chinese Embassy and the Chinese government. So, until they release it, it’s harder to believe and to accept that there was an agreement,” he said.

Asked if he has directed government agencies to be extra careful about it, Marcos said “there is no directive like that” but emphasized an existing policy on the issue.

The President added that the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) and the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) are working together to make the country’s cybersecurity more robust and secure.

He said they are already planning to bring some Filipino experts, who are among the world’s best, to work for the government as “free agents” to help bolster the country’s cybersecurity.

“Some of the best people in cybersecurity are actually Filipino but they are civilians so we have to bring some of them,” Marcos said.

“I don’t know if we can find an arrangement for them to work for the military, to work for government agencies. Maybe as a free agent? We’ll see,” he added.

‘Administrative decision’

Meanwhile, the AFP said the designation of Rear Admiral Alfonso Torres Jr. as the new Wescom chief is an “administrative decision.”

Torres replaced former Wescom chief Vice Admiral Alberto Carlos who has been on personal leave since May 7.

No reason was given by the military for Carlos’ leave, with Torres being placed as acting Wescom chief.

Carlos was earlier tagged by the Chinese Embassy as the military official who allegedly agreed with their “new model” arrangement in managing the tensions in Ayungin Shoal, with the approval of ranking government officials.

“It is part of the ongoing changes in leadership and key positions within the military which is necessary for the institution to adapt to evolving security environment and effectively address emerging challenges,” AFP public affairs office chief Col. Xerxes Trinidad said.

He added Wescom’s critical role requires a fulltime leader that has more years in service to provide continuity and strategic direction.

“We offer our full support to Rear Admiral Torres and we are confident in his ability to lead with distinction,” Trinidad said. (with reports from Filane Cervantes/Priam F. Nepomuceno/PNA)