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Marcos orders wiretap probe

President Ferdinand Marcos, Jr. (Courtesy: Presidential Communications Office/Facebook)
Charles Dantes, Macon Ramos-Araneta & Rio N. Araja

China must release alleged recording of convo with ranking AFP official

President Marcos ordered an inquiry into the alleged wiretapping of a high-ranking official within the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) by the Chinese Embassy in Manila.

“We are looking into it because the fact of the matter is, there have been mentions of a tape that confirms that there was this agreement,” President Marcos said in a chance interview.

The President emphasized that it is premature to draw any conclusions until he reviews the contents of the alleged wiretap.

“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.

When asked if he had issued any directives for government agencies to exercise additional caution, President Marcos said there was no such directive, but highlighted the ongoing policy on cybersecurity.

“There have been so many departments and agencies that have been victimized and I think we are all very aware of the risks of cybersecurity. We are very conscious of that,” he said.

He also said the Department of Information and Communications (DICT) and Department of Science and Technology (DOST) are working together to improve cybersecurity and the plan to recruit top Filipino experts to bolster digital defenses.

The Department of Justice through its National Bureau of Investigation already initiated a probe into the wiretapping allegations. The Senate committee on national defense also scheduled a hearing on the issue this coming week.

At the halls of the Senate, Senator Jinggoy Estrada, chairperson of the Senate Committee on National Defense and Security, has already sent a “polite invitation” to the Chinese Embassy over its alleged wiretapping involving the Armed Forces of the Philippines.

Interviewed over DZBB on Sunday, Sen. Francis Tolentino said the invitation was sent to the Chinese ambassador to the Philippines Huang Xilian and Chinese Consul General Zhang Zhen.

Tolentino said he still does not know if the Chinese officials had already responded.

“I haven’t talk yet to the Committee Secretary. I will know it by Monday,” he said.

He noted it was a polite invitation since they cannot be compelled to attend the Senate hearing.

He said there is a diplomatic protocol under the Geneva Convention that should be followed. “They have the right just like us,” he added.

The Philippines, he said, signed the Geneva Convention in 1965 while China in 1975.

He reiterated that they will not focus on the “new model” of AFP supply mission, but the violation of the Anti-Wire Tapping Law.

Tolentino admitted they can’t do anything if the Chinese officials refuse to attend the hearing. So, they will just proceed to strengthen the existing law on wiretapping.

With the technology development, he underscored the need to continuously update our laws.

However, their non-appearance will just show that they’re hiding something and they’re not in good faith.

Meanwhile, ACT Teachers party-list Rep. France Castro on Sunday lauded the decision of the House of Representatives to finally investigate the supposed secret agreement between former President Rodrigo Duterte and China almost a year after she filed House Resolution 1216.

“It’s been almost a year since we filed House Resolution 1216 to investigate it, but it will only be heard now. I hope that apart from former Malacañang officials, like Harry Roque, Duterte himself will be summoned because he himself knows about their conversation with Xi Jinping,” she said.

She said the “secret deal” could have sparked the elevated incursions of China into the country’s territorial waters and exclusive economic zone.

“I believe that China is also going to use this secret deal to justify their new policy of arresting non-Chinese in the areas they are claiming well within our EEZ,” she cited.

“Those involved in this surrender of Philippine sovereignty must be held accountable and China’s continued interference and destruction must also be held accountable under international law,” she said.

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