AFP: WPS new model claim part of China's 'malign influence effort'

By Priam Nepomuceno

May 9, 2024, 9:22 am

<p>AFP chief Gen. Romeo Brawner Jr. <em>(PNA file photo)</em></p>

AFP chief Gen. Romeo Brawner Jr. (PNA file photo)

MANILA – Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) chief Gen. Romeo Brawner Jr. dismissed anew claims that the military has been a willing participant in the "new model" agreement reportedly reached with China, as part of efforts to reduce tensions in Ayungin Shoal in the West Philippine Sea (WPS).

"The AFP will not dignify the claim of the Chinese Embassy in Manila that our organization has agreed to a 'new model' for conduct in the Ayungin Shoal. China’s claim of an audio recording allegedly between (Western Command chief) Vice Admiral (Alberto) Carlos and a Chinese diplomat does not merit significant concern as it appears to be a malign influence effort from the Chinese Communist Party (CCP)," he said in a statement Wednesday night.

The Chinese Embassy in Manila earlier claimed that Carlos has agreed to the "new model" agreement with permission from ranking Philippine government officials.

In the alleged recording, Carlos was talking with an unidentified Chinese diplomat on how to conduct the rotation and resupply mission to Ayungin Shoal, where a Marine detachment is manning the BRP Sierra Madre (LS-57), can proceed without interference.

"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 WPS," Brawner noted.

He added that the AFP remains a professional organization despite these allegations.

"We urge the public and the media to handle such reports with care and to avoid spreading unverified information that could further escalate tensions or mislead public opinion," Brawner said.

Carlos went on personal leave starting May 7, with Rear Adm. Alfonso Torres Jr. of the Naval Education, Training and Training Command taking command over Wescom in an acting capacity.

The AFP earlier said Carlos' leave has nothing to do with the issue. (PNA)