Philippines to probe reports of foreign diplomats' illegal activities

The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) on Monday, May 13, said it will look into any reports of illegal and unlawful activities by foreign diplomatic officials in the country, in a move that came after China's alleged wiretapping of a purported phone call between its diplomat and a Philippine military official.

It also warned that the agency will undertake necessary action in line with existing laws and regulations.

In a statement, DFA reminded accredited foreign diplomats in the country that they are accorded necessary liberties to conduct their duties.

However, they are expected, in turn, to conduct "diplomatic activities with the highest standards of integrity and professionalism, in pursuit of common interests and mutually beneficial outcomes," DFA added.

Both Department of National Defense (DND) Secretary Gibo Teodoro and National Security Adviser Eduardo Año recently called on the DFA to expel the Chinese diplomat behind the recording of a phone call purportedly with the chief of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Western Command when they agreed to a “new model.”

The Chinese Embassy in Manila let Manila Bulletin and another media outfit listen to the recording, although it could not be immediately confirmed if the recording was real or fake.

Lin Jian, spokesman for China's Foreign Ministry, in a recent press conference in Beijing already confirmed that the Chinese embassy released the recording in a bid to supposedly show proof that a "new model" on the management of sea row was entered into by the current administration with China.

China’s move was illegal under the county’s Anti-Wiretapping Law, although diplomats have immunity to their receiving state’s laws under the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations.

But these would not hinder the Philippine government from taking any measure.

DFA said: "Being a strong advocate of rules-based governance, the Philippine Government is firm and united in respecting and upholding the rule of law in both the domestic and international milieus."

"It is in this context that the Philippines—as a responsible member of the international community of nations—has consistently called for adherence to international law, including the United Nations Charter, the Vienna Conventions governing inter-state relations, and in the maritime domain the 1982 UNCLOS, among others," it added.