THE Western Command (Wescom), the unit of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) that is critically engaged in territorial defense operations, is under fire and hogging headlines. Its former commander, Vice Adm. Alberto Carlos, and all his key unified command staff were removed after he was, while some are waiting for their replacements. On May 30, and Palawan News ran stories about the "purging" of the Wescom key staff. The former even revealed the names and positions of the staff removed on May 27 and 28, as well as the other six positions in the next wave of washout. The latter, meanwhile, reported that the deputy commanders for external security operations and internal security operations were also waiting to be relieved. The mass sacking followed the release by the Chinese Embassy in Manila of an alleged conversation between a Philippine military official — purportedly Carlos — and an embassy official about what China claims as a "new model."

After that, Carlos appeared before the Senate Committee on Defense and Security and explicitly denied under oath having "forge[d] any agreement at the level and magnitude that would bind our two countries for the long term and redefine foreign policy." While he admitted to being the one on the other line of that conversation, he emphasized that he was neither aware of nor gave his consent to it being recorded. He implicitly admitted, however, having agreed to a "modus vivendi" that would lead to the accomplishment of rotation-and-resupply (RoRe) missions in Ayungin (Second Thomas) Shoal with the least danger to the life and limb of Wescom personnel. He committed to reveal the details of the wiretapped conversation in an executive session.

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