Presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo on Friday downplayed the statement of Supreme Court Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio that China was monitoring his phone calls and emails.
Panelo was among those who attended the 17th national convention of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines in Iloilo City on Thursday where Carpio delivered a lecture on the South China Sea dispute and the controversial loan for an irrigation project entered into by Manila and Beijing under the Duterte administration.
During the lecture, the power went off for a few minutes prompting Carpio to say that his email and phone conversations were “being monitored by China but I didn’t know they have the capability to tinker with our video.”
“I think he said that in jest. He was making us all there laugh kasi nagkaroon ng blackout. I was expecting that kasi kung ako ang nandoon yun din ang sasabihin ko,” Panelo said at a news conference.
Panelo also said he has no personal knowledge whether high government officials like Carpio are under China’s surveillance.
“I do not know whether other countries are monitoring us. I do not even know whether they have the capability of monitoring every single high official in this country,” he said.
Carpio is a leading advocate for the Philippines’ maritime claims in the South China Sea which Beijing says it has indisputable sovereignty over 90 percent of the resource-rich waters.
Beijing has also refused to honor The Hague-based arbitral tribunal ruling in 2016 that invalidated its excessive claims following a case filed by the Philippines during the administration of then-President Benigno Aquino III.