MANILA – Malacañang on Thursday raised worry over the alleged presence of an estimated 3,000 members of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) in the Philippines.
This, after Senator Panfilo Lacson revealed on Wednesday that around 2,000 to 3,000 PLA personnel are now in the country on “immersion missions” and for other unknown purposes.
Presidential Spokesperson Panelo said the Palace is “always alarmed” when there is the latest development that affects the country’s national interest.
“All we can say is we in the government is always concerned in any issue affecting the national interest and national security,” he told Palace reporters in a press conference.
The PLA is China’s armed forces and considered the world’s largest military force.
The PLA, which has over 2 million active personnel, consists of five service branches, namely the Ground Force, Navy, Air Force, Rocket Force, and Strategic Support Force.
Validation of ‘raw’ intel report
Panelo said that while the Palace expressed a cause for concern, it viewed Lacson’s claim as a “raw intelligence report.”
He made the remark after Lacson admitted that the supposed presence of some members of the Chinese army in the country has yet to be validated.
Panelo said President Rodrigo Duterte would only take appropriate action if the revelation that is based on “speculation and unverified reports” would be backed by substantial evidence.
“If that is validated, then we will make our appropriate response. Until such time, it’s just speculation,” he said.
Panelo expressed confidence that the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) has already looked into the unverified information that 3,000 PLA personnel are now in the country.
He said Duterte’s decision would depend on the report of the AFP.
“When their job is done, they report to the President, and the President makes a decision,” he said.
Last week, the Makati police nabbed two Chinese murder suspects who were caught with identification cards purportedly from the PLA.
Authorities, however, found that the suspects were carrying fake Chinese military identification cards. (PNA)