Ex-Wescom chief denies negotiating for 'new model' pact with China

By Priam Nepomuceno

May 28, 2024, 4:38 pm

<p>Former Western Command chief Vice Admiral Alberto Carlos <em>(Screengrab)</em></p>

Former Western Command chief Vice Admiral Alberto Carlos (Screengrab)

MANILA – Former Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Western Command (Wescom) chief Vice Adm. Alberto Carlos on Tuesday maintained that he did not negotiate with China regarding a "new model" agreement that aims to reduce tensions at Ayungin Shoal at the West Philippine Sea (WPS).

In an exclusive interview with state-run People's Television (PTV), Carlos also emphasized that he did not give permission or consent to the Chinese military attaché, whom he identified as Col. Lee, to record their conversation.

Carlos said he met Lee during his job as Wescom commander, which sometimes entailed meeting with foreign representatives in diplomatic activities.

"I've had a very open discussion with him in plain view, several times, so we exchanged numbers so when I received that call, I knew it was him so I received the call from him, although I did not give my consent to be recorded," he added.

Carlos also maintained that he and Lee only had an "informal casual conversation."

"New model, definitely, we did not talk about that. Internal understanding, also we did not talk about that, and there is still no long-term agreement. Hindi naman ako (I am not) authorized to negotiate a long-term agreement, so definitely non-existent as far as I'm concerned, (and) no, I did not engage in any discussion on involving secret details. No secret deals and whatsoever. There is no agreement," he added.

Carlos also maintained that he did not compromise the country's territorial integrity.

"I have not given up our sovereign rights and entitlement. I am a soldier for the Filipino. I remain a loyal servant of the Republic," he said.

Earlier this month, the Chinese Embassy in Manila claimed that Carlos, with the approval of ranking government officials, has agreed to enter into "a new model" agreement as part of easing tensions, which have been heightened by Chinese harassment of Philippine resupply ships and their escorts in Ayungin Shoal.

Carlos also expressed concern for his troops at the Wescom as tensions seem to be escalating in the WPS, given the series of water cannon attacks against Philippine ships that have resulted in damage and injuries to the Filipino side.

He was referring to the March 23 incident in Ayungin Shoal where a resupply mission and its escorts were heavily pummeled by water cannon blasts by the China Coast Guard and the April 30 humanitarian and patrol mission in Bajo de Masinloc (Scarborough Shoal), which was also subjected to heavy water cannon attacks.

"I'm really worried about my personnel in Wescom, especially those involved in the RORE (rotation and resupply [missions]). Sa mga kasamahan ko sa Western Command, alam kong napakarami pang hamon ang ating haharapin, marami pa tayong gagawin dyan sa West Philippine Sea. Alam kong kayang kaya natin yan (To my comrades at the Western Command, I know we are facing a lot of challenges and we still have a lot to do at the WPS. I know we can do it)," Carlos said. (PNA)