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DFA probes ‘illegal’ activities by diplomats

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said on Monday it would investigate alleged illegal activities by foreign diplomats, following calls to probe China’s possible violation of Philippine laws over a phone call recording. 

“The Department of Foreign Affairs will look into any reports of illegal and unlawful activities by diplomatic officials, and undertake necessary action in line with existing laws and regulations,” the DFA said. 

The agency’s statement comes after Defense Secretary Gilbert Teodoro Jr. and National Security Adviser Eduardo Año called on the DFA to take appropriate actions against individuals from the Chinese Embassy in Manila for potentially violating the Anti-Wire Tapping Act and breaching diplomatic protocols and conventions. 

The Chinese Embassy released a supposed two-minute recording of an alleged phone call with Admiral Alberto Carlos, commander of the military’s Western Command, on the so-called “new model” arrangement on the Ayungin (Second Thomas) Shoal.

The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) said that China's claim of an audio recording allegedly between 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)."

“Foreign diplomats accredited to the Philippines are accorded the necessary liberties to conduct their diplomatic duties, with the expectation that they, in turn, will conduct their diplomatic activities with the highest standards of integrity and professionalism, in pursuit of common interests and mutually beneficial outcomes,” the DFA said. 

The department called for adherence to international laws, including the United Nations Charter, the Vienna Conventions governing inter-state relations, and the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.

The DFA earlier said the Philippines had not made any agreements with China concerning the Ayungin Shoal. It also stressed that only President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. can authorize deals entered into by the government on matters pertaining to the West Philippine Sea and the South China Sea. 

Relations between Manila and Beijing have deteriorated following