It’s official:Carlos out as chief of Wescom
Teodoro confirms

It’s official: Carlos out as chief of Wescom

It’s official: Carlos out as chief of Wescom

Alberto Carlos —Photo from Western Command Armed Forces of the Philippines FB Page

PUERTO PRINCESA CITY—Vice Adm. Alberto Carlos, who supposedly confirmed that a “new model” arrangement to ease tension between the Philippines and China during the resupply of the troops at Ayungin (Second Thomas) Shoal, has been removed as chief of the military’s Western Command (Wescom).

Defense Secretary Gilberto Teodoro Jr. on Thursday disclosed in a speech to Philippine Navy personnel stationed on Pag-asa Island that Carlos was officially replaced by Rear Adm. Alfonso Torres Jr., who assumed the post of acting Wescom commander on May 7 after Carlos suddenly went on leave.


He did not provide any reason for the relief of Carlos.


Teodoro, who attended the groundbreaking ceremony for a naval barracks and a rural health unit on the island, said Torres was the “newly designated commander of Western Command.”

“That’s an administrative decision of the [Armed Forces of the Philippines]. There’s a leadership change not only here but in other commands [as well],” Teodoro told reporters.

He did not say whether the former Wescom chief would be given a new assignment.

Carlos could not be reached for comment.

‘Absence of incumbent’

Carlos was supposed to retire at age 56 in December 2023, but his service as Wescom commander was extended to December this year.

The designation of Torres as the new commander of Wescom was also confirmed in a memorandum signed by President Marcos on May 10, based on an endorsement from Teodoro and in accordance with a recommendation from AFP Chief of Staff Gen. Romeo Brawner Jr. and the board of generals.


AFP spokesperson Col. Francel Margareth Padilla announced on May 7 that Torres would be the acting Wescom chief in the “absence of the incumbent” after Carlos filed for leave.

Phone recordings

Carlos’ relief became more controversial a day after Torres’ assumption when news broke that an official from the Chinese Embassy claimed to have a recorded phone conversation with him regarding the new arrangement on resupplying the troops manning the rusting BRP Sierra Madre, the AFP outpost at Ayungin.

A transcript of the alleged recording was published on May 8 by a local newspaper.

The defense and military chiefs both dismissed the alleged phone recording as the product of a “deepfake” operation. Teodoro said that if the recording were true, those involved could be charged with violating the country’s antiwiretapping law.

But he added that only the President could approve any agreement with China on the West Philippine Sea, which would indicate that any alleged agreement with the Chinese Embassy was unauthorized.

Teodoro and National Security Adviser Eduardo Año sought the expulsion of the wiretappers.

Earlier controversy

Carlos had become the center of controversy even earlier.

In a briefing to a group of journalists in April 25, a diplomat familiar with the talks on the “new model” said the arrangement on Ayungin reached at the end of 2023 “was approved by the leadership” of the Philippine government “through the AFP Wescom.”

In the published transcript of the alleged phone conversation, Carlos twice confirmed that the agreement had approval of his superiors.

China claims sovereignty over Ayungin and most of the West Philippine Sea and the South China Sea. It has often tried to keep supplies away from the Sierra Madre, even using water cannons against supply boats.

In 2016, China’s sweeping claims were invalidated by the international arbitral tribunal which ruled that it had no legal basis. The tribunal upheld the Philippines’ sovereign rights over its 370-kilometer exclusive economic zone, including Ayungin and other marine features within the area.

Pag-asa visit

In his visit to Pag-asa, Teodoro said the two facilities to be built were an important milestone as the government continued to bring in development to the area and boost Filipino presence in the West Philippine Sea to uphold the country’s territorial and sovereign rights over these waters.

“We thank the Senate and the House [of Representatives] for continuously pouring in infrastructure support for Pag-asa Island. We still have lots of plans, but we cannot discuss their operational details,” Teodoro said.

He encouraged residents of the island to continue with their fishing activities despite the presence of Chinese vessels trying to harass them and promising government support in terms of security.

“They need to go out to the seas and catch fish. We will extend to them all necessary assistance that includes building cold storage and refrigeration facilities,” Teodoro said.

The defense chief also confirmed the presence of China Coast Guard and Chinese maritime militia vessels around the island.

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“There were 22, more or less, in Subi [Reef] and around [Pag-asa],” he said. —WITH A REPORT FROM JANE BAUTISTA 

TAGS: AFP, Wescom

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