Philippines Probes Alleged Chinese Recording of Phone Call on South China Sea Dispute

MANILA – President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. announced on May 18 that the Philippines is investigating an alleged recording made by the Chinese embassy in Manila of a phone call with a local military official. This recording reportedly pertains to an agreement between the two nations over disputed territory in the South China Sea.

“We are looking into it because the fact of the matter is there has been mention of a tape that confirms that there was this agreement,” Marcos stated, according to an official statement from his office.

Earlier in May, Bloomberg News reported that Chinese officials suggested Beijing might release an audio recording of the phone call with a Philippine military official. China claims this recording is evidence of an agreement on a “new model” for managing disputed territory in the South China Sea. Philippine officials have denied the existence of any such agreement.

According to a transcript provided by Chinese officials to Bloomberg News, the alleged January 3 phone call involved Vice-Admiral Alberto Carlos, head of the Philippine military’s Western Command. In the call, Carlos supposedly agrees to a “new model” for handling resupply missions to the Philippine-occupied Second Thomas Shoal in the South China Sea.

Marcos emphasized the difficulty of drawing conclusions without hearing the recording himself. “It’s in the possession of the Chinese embassy and the Chinese government. So, until they release it, it’s harder to believe and to accept that there was an agreement,” he said.

The investigation reflects ongoing tensions and complexities in the South China Sea dispute, with both nations seeking to assert their claims over the contested waters.