Torres replaces Carlos as Western Command chief

Michael Punongbayan - The Philippine Star
Torres replaces Carlos as Western Command chief
Rear Admiral Alfonso Torres Jr.

MANILA, Philippines — The military official named by the Chinese embassy as the one who approved a “new model” for managing the BRP Sierra Madre issue has been relieved of his post as commander of the military’s Western Command (WESCOM) which has territorial jurisdiction over the West Philippine Sea (WPS).

The Armed Forces of the Philippines said the relief of Vice Admiral Alberto Carlos has nothing to do with China’s allegations that he had been speaking and negotiating with Chinese authorities regarding the Sierra Madre issue. The AFP did not reveal any new assignment for Carlos, who remains on leave.

The Chinese embassy earlier claimed one of its diplomats recorded a conversation with the ranking military official who allegedly claimed being in the graces of Defense Secretary Gilbert Teodoro Jr. and National Security Adviser Eduardo Año.

Carlos, shortly after the allegations came out, went on official leave supposedly due to personal reasons, with the AFP insisting that the WESCOM chief was only temporarily leaving the post and would return.

Yesterday however, the military confirmed that he had now been officially replaced by Rear Admiral Alfonso Torres Jr. Again, the AFP maintained that the decision had nothing to do with the controversy.

“The designation of Rear Admiral Alfonso Torres Jr. as commander of WESCOM is an administrative decision of the AFP,” AFP public affairs office chief Col. Xerxes Trinidad told reporters.

“It is part of the ongoing changes in leadership and key positions within the military which is necessary for the institution to adapt to evolving security environment and effectively address emerging challenges,” he said.

“WESCOM’s critical role requires a fulltime leader that has more years in service in order to provide continuity and strategic direction,” he added.

“We offer our full support to Rear Admiral Torres and we are confident in his ability to lead with distinction,” Trinidad declared.

Carlos himself has not issued a statement on the matter. The Department of Foreign Affairs, Department of Justice and even the Senate are now investigating possible violation of the Anti-Wiretapping Law and international laws by the Chinese, with the embassy’s admission of a secretly recorded conversation with Carlos.

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