By Priam Nepomuceno

Defense Secretary Gilberto Teodoro Jr. (Photo courtesy of DND)

MANILA – The Chinese Embassy’s claim of having an audio recording of a Filipino general talking with a Chinese diplomat regarding a “new model” agreement on the West Philippine Sea (WPS) is tantamount to an admission of violating Philippine laws, Defense Secretary Gilberto Teodoro Jr. said Wednesday.

“Kung totoo man ito, labag sa international relations at labag sa batas dahil hindi sila nakipag-ugnayan sa Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) at sila ay umoperate na pailalim kung totoo ito (If this is true, they have also violated international relations and violated the law as they failed to coordinate with the Department of Foreign Affairs as they have operated underhandedly if this is true),” Teodoro said on the sidelines of the Philippine Navy’s Maritime Security Symposium 2024 in Quezon City.

Republic Act 4200 or the Anti-Wire Tapping Law makes it illegal for any person, without the consent of all parties involved, to tap into any wire or cable, or by using any other device or arrangement, to secretly overhear, intercept, or record any private communication.

Teodoro said they are leaving this matter to the DFA to determine what really happened and whether the Chinese Embassy in Manila is really behind this.

“Dapat alamin kung sino ang responsable dito at alisin sa Republika ng Pilipinas (those responsible for this must be found and identified and immediately removed from the Republic of the Philippines),” he said.

He, however, doubted the authenticity of the Chinese Embassy’s claim, saying this is likely another product of the Chinese government’s “propensity to engage in misinformation activities”.

He said they are beefing up their “operational security measures” as there are “disinformation (and) malign influence” efforts conducted by agents of other governments.

Philippine Navy (PN) spokesperson for the WPS Commodore Roy Vincent Trinidad echoed Teodoro’s remarks.

“Anybody could say anything. These stories will be rehashed. We have to understand that today’s warfare is a battle of narratives, it (is) a battle of shaping the perception of the people,” he said.

“Today’s battlefield is in the minds of the people, the cognitive domain is the ultimate battlefield so we need to understand there will be very little force-on-force actions. this will be a battle of information and narratives, (of shaping) in the perception of the people,” he said.

He reiterated that the “new model” claims of the Chinese Embassy are already a “dead story”.

“We need not dignify such dead stories that have been revived from the grave. I will act as an undertaker now and bring that story back to where it rightfully belongs, to the grave never to be heard again,” he said. (PNA)