The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) has thrown its support to the beleaguered head of the Western Command, Vice Admiral Alberto Carlos, amidst a Chinese government claim that it had struck an agreement directly with Philippine officials pertaining to the conduct of resupply missions to BRP Sierra Madre at the Ayungin Shoal.

In a statement, the AFP said it “will not dignify the claim of the Chinese Embassy in Manila that our organization has agreed to a ‘new model’ for conduct in the Ayungin Shoal.” It also dismissed China’s claim that it has a recording of a conversation between Carlos and a Chinese diplomat, pointing out that audio recordings can be easily fabricated given current technologies, including the use of artificial intelligence.

“These reports only aim to serve as a distraction from the China Coast Guard’s ongoing aggressive behavior in the West Philippine Sea,” the statement read.

“The AFP remains a professional organization. We urge the public and the media to handle such reports with care and to avoid spreading unverified information that could further escalate tensions or mislead public opinion,” it added.

After Carlos went on leave and Rear Admiral Alfonso Torres Jr. took his place, the Chinese Embassy made its claim. AFP spokesperson Col. Francel Margareth Padilla clarified that Torres assumed the post only in an acting capacity in the absence of Carlos.

“The AFP denies the claim made by the Embassy of China in Manila that AFP Western Command has agreed to a new model for conduct in the Ayungin Shoal,” Padilla said.