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Remulla orders probe into alleged illegal activities by diplomats

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Justice (DOJ) ordered an investigation into reported illegal activities by diplomats posted in the Philippines as it stressed that diplomatic immunity is never absolute. 

Justice Secretary Jesus Crispin Remulla on Tuesday directed the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) to look into the alleged unlawful acts of foreign diplomats.

This comes after the Chinese Embassy in Manila released to select media a recording and transcript of an unverified phone call between a Chinese diplomat and Vice Admiral Alberto Carlos, commander of the military’s Western Command, on the so-called “new model” arrangement on the Ayungin (Second Thomas) Shoal.

“While enjoying the privileges and immunities accorded to foreign diplomats, it is also their duty to respect the laws and regulations of the receiving state,” Remulla said. 

The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) is also investigating alleged illegal activities by diplomats after the Department of National Defense (DND) and National Security Council (NSC) called on the agency to take appropriate actions against Chinese Embassy officials for potentially violating the Anti-Wire Tapping Act and breaching diplomatic protocols.

“Diplomatic immunity should never be used as a license to exploit our country’s peace and harmony for selfish motives, this privilege does not shield anyone from the consequences of the rule of law,” Remulla said. 

The Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations grants diplomatic immunity to diplomats, employees of international organizations, and their immediate family members during their stay in a receiving state. 

The justice department, however, pointed out that such immunity applies only to official acts performed in the course of their duties and functions related to promoting international cooperation, policies, and interests.

The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) earlier said that Beijing’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).”

Last week, the DFA said the Philippines had not made any agreements with