New chief appointed for Western Command as Torres takes over from Carlos

A military official who was identified 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 stated that the relief of Vice Admiral Alberto Carlos is not related to China’s allegations that he had been speaking and negotiating with Chinese authorities regarding the Sierra Madre issue. The AFP did not disclose any new assignment for Carlos, who remains on leave.

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

After the allegations surfaced, Carlos went on official leave citing personal reasons, with the AFP clarifying that the WESCOM chief was temporarily stepping away from the post and would eventually return. However, it was confirmed yesterday that he has been officially replaced by Rear Admiral Alfonso Torres Jr. The AFP maintained that the decision to replace Carlos had nothing to do with the controversy.

According to AFP public affairs office chief Col. Xerxes Trinidad, the appointment of Rear Admiral Alfonso Torres Jr. as commander of WESCOM is an administrative decision of the AFP. Trinidad emphasized that the change in leadership is necessary for the military to adapt to the evolving security environment and effectively address emerging challenges.

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

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