Any deal with China invalid if it's only verbal — Manalo

Foreign Affairs Secretary Enrique Manalo on Wednesday, May 22, maintained that any agreement between the Philippines and China would be invalid if it is not written and signed by appropriate authorities.

Manalo's assertion came as Beijing continues to claim the validity of the purported deals that China and the Philippines had supposedly entered into with regards to the West Philippine Sea, including the "gentleman's agreement," the "internal understanding," and the "new model."

The chief of the country's foreign affairs said he has "never seen those agreements," so the only basis that such agreements exist is China's claim.

In previous engagements with the media, the Chinese Embassy in Manila had been asserting the validity of such agreements, even though they were not on official records of the Philippines. It would only say they have records, but only through text messages and phone calls.

"If they [China] could show us a document that was signed, or at least some document, maybe they would have the case. But so far, it's only been verbal," Manalo said.

Recently, the Chinese embassy shared with Manila Bulletin and another media outfit the recording of a purported phone call between a Philippine military official and a Chinese diplomat, who supposedly agreed to the new model.

China's action was tagged as wiretapping, an act illegal under Philippine law, by various government agencies, which even called for the expulsion of the diplomat involved in recording the phone call.

For the Philippines, China was only creating false narratives and conducting malign influence to prove its unfounded claims.

"Why they're saying it, I don't know, maybe to defend what they're doing,” Manalo said, referring to China’s continued illegal activities and harassment in the West Philippine Sea.

“But where's the proof that we agree? And if there was something in writing, as I said, okay, you might have a case. But there isn't, and they only give their side,” he added.