By Wilnard Bacelonia

The Philippine Senate Session Hall (PNA file photo by Avito Dalan) 

MANILA – Senator Francis Tolentino on Wednesday urged the Senate Committee on National Defense to investigate the alleged wiretapping of the Chinese Embassy in Manila against the Armed Forces of the Philippines – Western Command (AFP-WESCOM), citing a potential violation of the Philippine Anti-Wiretapping Act.

Tolentino officially made the appeal through Senate Resolution (SR) No. 1023, which underscores Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Lin Jian’s announcement in a press conference on May 6 of 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 Department of National Defense, and the National Security Council.

“This act (Anti-Wiretapping 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,” Tolentino said in a statement.

The senator noted that 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.

“It is also unlawful for any person or persons to replay the unauthorized recorded communication, either verbally or in writing, or to furnish its transcription, whether complete or partial, to any person, unless allowed or authorized by courts as evidence in any civil, criminal investigation or trial of offenses,” Tolentino said.

Among others, SR 1023 seeks to determine the extent of China’s interference and review relevant laws and protocols to address such interference.

“If the act of wiretapping is proven to be accurate, China should formally apologize to the Philippines for the illegal acts of their officials, waive their diplomatic immunity, and let them face the consequences of their shameless and unbecoming act pursuant to Articles 9 (I)3 and 324 of the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic and Consular Relations,” the resolution stated.

The Department of Foreign Affairs emphasized that only the President can authorize agreements related to the West Philippine Sea and South China Sea, and warned the public against falling for “false narratives” and interference in internal affairs.

China earlier announced that it would release a transcript and audio recording of an alleged phone conversation between Chinese officials and a top AFP officer discussing a “new model” for resupply missions in the West Philippine Sea, which the Philippine government denied approving. (PNA)