Former Wescom Chief Denies Secret China Deal in Senate Hearing

Manila – Former Western Command (Wescom) chief Vice Admiral Alberto Carlos vehemently denied allegations of secretly dealing with China during a Senate hearing on Wednesday.

According to Philippines News Agency, claims that he engaged in covert negotiations with Chinese officials are “completely false.”

During the hearing convened by the Senate Committee on National Defense and Security, Peace, Unification, and Reconciliation, Carlos acknowledged having a brief conversation with a Chinese military attaché, Senior Col. Li, in January, but he stressed that no agreements were made that would impact Philippine foreign policy or compromise national interests. The meeting, he said, lasted only three to five minutes and did not involve discussions on new models for handling issues in the West Philippine Sea (WPS).

Additionally, the Department of Justice (DOJ) Senior State Counsel Atty. Fretti Ganchoon raised concerns about the legality of the leaked transcript of the conversation, suggesting it could be a violation of the wiretapping law. This statement underscored uncertainties about the transcript’s authenticity and the legality of its acquisition.

Senator Jinggoy Ejercito Estrada, chair of the committee, expressed his intent to take legislative action regarding the incident, highlighting the seriousness of the potential manipulation of the conversation to falsely suggest a secret agreement. Estrada criticized the ease with which Philippine officials could be misrepresented by foreign powers, emphasizing the need for vigilance and corrective measures.

Vice Admiral Carlos also mentioned that the Chinese official had attempted to contact him again just two days before the hearing, an overture he chose not to acknowledge. He expressed his willingness to provide further details in a closed executive session to discuss sensitive aspects of the issue.