Senator Francis N.
Tolentino Leads Inquiry Discussion of Alleged Chinese Program for
Members of the Philippine Military
delivered 7 August
2023, Pasay, National Capitol Region, Republic of the Philippines
[English-only transcript. Tagalog
language delivery translated via professional service.)
Senator Francis N.
Tolentino: Thank you, Senator Raffy.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I apologize for being late earlier.
I attended a
Lieutenant Colonel Tammy Duckworth. Tammy Duckworth is now the incumbent senator from Illinois.
She is a member of the
Armed Services Committee of the U.S. Senate. We just finished on the sixth floor. A lot of issues were
discussed concerning our relationship with the United States, among others. But, Mr. Chairman, I would like to ask a specific question
which has been lingering on my mind for the last several weeks. And perhaps the
DND [Department of National Defense] officers here can answer me.
Since 2008, as we speak now -- as we speak now, we
have two cadets at the
U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis -- Filipino,
Filipino. I have a former staff member currently there at
Alabama, undergoing training.
Since 2008, we have
stopped accepting counterpart cadets from the United States going to the
Philippine Military Academy. You can confirm this later.
I wonder, Mr. Chairman, every time we have a
Appointments hearing, in the thick folders I read we have many military
officers: O6 [rank], even Majors who, when they passed through, were graduates
of the -- graduates of the "Beijing Military Academy" [People's
Liberation Army National Defense University]. They studied in China, PLA Military Academy. Can you confirm this?1
We have stopped accepting cadets from the United
States since 2008. Now we're sending our cadets -- PMA [Philippine Military
Academy] graduates or cadets -- to the
"Beijing Military Academy." What is --
What is the reason for this? We have ceased our acceptance of cadets from America.
cadets to -- to the U.S. Air Force Academy, U.S. Naval Academy, to
Annapolis, U.S. West -- West Point [U.S. Military Academy]. However, while we don't accept cadets from America, we do
send cadets to the "Beijing Military Academy" in China. What is the rationale behind this? I wasnít asking
during the Commission on Appointments hearing, but I see in their biodata that
they are graduates of Beijing. How did this happen? Can somebody explain this? Why is it that we refuse those who are our treaty partners
and allies? And we -- And we are sending our cadets from the PMA to those who
harass us in the West Philippine Sea? Can somebody explain the rationale behind
Earlier, I didn't bring it up anymore, you know, with
Senator Tammy Duckworth. Well, she lost both her legs. That was from an RPG
[Rocket-Propelled Grenade] in Iraq. She was a helicopter pilot during the Iraq
War; a senator from Illinois. She just left this building. So, can somebody
explain this -- how we stopped in 2008 and yet we're sending to the "Beijing
Military Academy" now? DND?
Irineo Espino: Your Honor --
Senator Tolentino: Is that correct background information that I got?
USEC Espino: I think so, your
Senator Tolentino: What do you mean you
"think so?" Right?
USEC Espino: Right, your
Senator Tolentino: We no longer receive -- because back then there were
generals serving in the U.S. Army [who were] graduates of the PMA.
USEC Espino: Yes, sir.
Senator Tolentino: There are Admirals, Commodores who graduated from the
Philippine Military Academy. They studied here. As for us, haven't we already
graduated many from Annapolis, West Point, etc. etc.? But now we're having them
graduate from the "Beijing Military Academy." Is that correct?
USEC Espino: Your
Chair, before I retired from the
service, I was superintendent of PMA and I asked that question also -- why [the] U.S.
[has] stopped sending cadets?
Senator Tolentino: And when did you retire, sir?
USEC Espino: 2013, sir.
Rowen [Tolentino] wasn't there yet? He wasn't there
at the PMA yet. Not yet, right?
USEC Espino: When was it
-- '89, sir.
Senator Tolentino: Okay.
Go ahead. Go ahead.
USEC Espino: Yes, sir. And they said the U.S. stopped sending
cadets to -- to us but other countries, like Singapore, they continued sending cadets to PMA; also Malaysia,
they sent cadets to PMA. But I think recently they're no
longer sending cadets.
Senator Tolentino: There must be a reason. So, because of that, I need
another reason why we're now sending cadets to the "Beijing Military Academy." Is
our system interoperable, our doctrine aligning with the trade-off in the
Chinese military doctrine? How is that? I'm confused about that -- starting to send
cadets to the "Beijing Military Academy." They might start
speaking Chinese when they come back here.
Your Honor, we -- we will check and we will ask.
But is that true? Is that correct? There are cadets as we speak now.
I heard about it, your Honor.
So, we'll have a general who graduated from Beijing. Right? We have. Then, at
the same time, we're also sending individuals to -- consistently to -- Annapolis,
continuously. We stopped at -- can you provide this committee -- there must be a
reason why they stopped sending cadets coming from the United States. Can you
provide this? There's still a hearing, Mr. Chairman? But can you provide this
committee a concrete black and white reason why they stopped? There must be a
reason. It's not because it's ineffective. There must be a reason. And then can
you provide this committee a reason why we started sending cadets to the "Beijing
Military" -- I donít know if that's the correct name for that military institution.
We will do that.
Are we requiring them or encouraging our cadets to -- to study at the "Beijing
I think this is quite alarming, and this is the first time I heard the news
coming from Senator Tolentino. Are we encouraging them to -- to study at the
"Military Academy of Beijing?"
USEC Espino: Your Honor, I cannot answer that. I have to find out the reason why they
sending cadets to China.
Who is in charge? Who is in charge? Who is in charge?
USEC Espino: No. J8, your
Senator Tolentino: J8, so they give
allowances. Does the Chinese government also provide allowances?
Iím sure, yes.
It has an allowance. It has
billeting, lodging, accommodation. There's a
patch when you graduate from -- you must learn likewise to sing the national
anthem of the People's Republic of China. Alarming, indeed!
Mr. Chairman! In
Cebuano, the word is nalipong.
"Dizzy." So I think this has to be explained.
This has to be explained. A lot of our young -- we are promoting
ROTC [Reserve Officers' Training Corps]. We are
revive ROTC. Turns out, we are sending some there. This is confusing,
Mr. Chairman! They're not there just to learn Chinese culinary and even use
chopsticks. Isn't that right? The doctrine there is probably different. I just
raise that, Mr. Chairman, just for the information of this committee.
Thank you for providing this vital information and Iím as surprised as you are.
Because I donít think or I donít know if the Defense Department or DFD are
encouraging our cadets to -- to study --
Senator Rafael Teshiba
Mr. Chair, may I interject -- because I read an article that's part of what we
call Chinese promoting influence globally. There's the entertainment aspect. If
you notice, there are American movies with Chinese influence. There's the
education aspect. Right now, the military. There's still the BRI -- the
Road Initiative. There it is. We can clearly see that China's influence is
So this -- this is what's painful. It's good that
Senator Tolentino mentioned this,
that even our military is being infiltrated by them through providing free
education to our JOs [Junior Officers]. And then what happens after our JOs
graduate? They owe China, because they learned about Chinese influence and
cultures there. They might even forget to sing
["Beloved Country"] and already know the
Anthem instead. This is very alarming. So my question to USEC Espino
already knew, right? Why haven't you stopped it yet? This has to stop.
USEC Espino: Your
Honor, your Chair, I was --
I'm sorry, sir, if I can still interject. This is a slap to us. We are being
bullied by China, and yet our military has no recourse. And now, our military is
unable to stand up to China and say, "Stop!" We're even sending them to China to
study, so this is like a slap in the face for us. USEC, sir.
I agree. Totally agree, your
Honor. I was given a note a while ago only
CGSC [(Armed Forces of the Philippines) Command
and General Staff College] and
MNSA [Master in National Security Administration] counterparts were availed of by officers of the
forces. I have to
check if there are cadets sent to "China Academy." Thereís still no --
GSC counterparts. So these are lieutenant colonels going to China.
So itís true, right?
There are cadets, high ranking ones.
Yes, sir, for senior officers.
This probably won't take just one week, right -- visiting the
Great Wall, visiting
One year course, sir.
You know, Mr. Chair, not to boast, I -- I won't mention who -- who the Chief of
back then. When I was a battalion commander in the reserve, there was a parade
Aguinaldo. I was the one leading the parade. They said to
"change your steps."
They made me do the goose steps. I asked,
"Where did we get this?""From China.""Well, the steps are quite high, sir."
We imitated that, right? We did the goose
steps. We did the goose steps for how many years? That was difficult. My waist
Yes sir, that was during the time of the late --
No, no need to mention him. He's our friend; he's our friend. So again, these
kinds of influences, we can't get rid of them. We have our own marching. God
bless his soul -- we marched properly. But we imitated the march of China. The
slow, high steps like that.
Senator Jinggoy Estrada:
How about the short people?
How will the short ones be able to march?
Oh, everyone had a hard time with it. So sir, I just raised this point so
that -- but we need the report for the committee. The reasons for the two: Why
did the U.S. cadets stop [attending the] PMA? Why are we sending -- Is this an exchange? Do we
have MNSA GSC Chinese counterparts attending?
It was not given to me, sir.
There are -- There are those who attended.
So they also have access to -- to -- our grounds and records that need to be
re-evaluated. So, do they also reside in Aguinaldo?
As of now, sir, I am not aware of any Chinese individuals who underwent GSC and
May I suggest, Mr. Chair, Senator Tolentino, for your consideration, that we
perhaps temporarily halt any dealings with China in terms of military exchange,
especially given the ongoing conflicts between China and the Philippines, and
the Chinese military's bullying of our armed forces here. So let's hold off for
now, because if we continue with that, our military personnel, lieutenant
colonels, will be sent to the "Beijing Military Academy," which could be seen as
an insult. Can we stop it, put a break right away? There are many other
academies where we can send them. Why choose Beijing where they perceive us as
an enemy due to their long-standing bullying?
Yes, your Honor. Iím really going to inform the DSND about it.
Third question, sir, with the permission of the Chair. Itís not just the Armed
Forces of the Philippines but the
Philippine National Police as well. Theyíre
sending cadets to Beijing. Can you confirm that?
The representative from the Philippine National Police here? I donít think --
I also learned -- you can verify from your counterparts. Thatís all Mr. Chairman.
Thank you for the --
Can you please provide us with a comprehensive report about the -- what the
Senator Tolentino provided us with this vital information. Because I, as
Chairman, I find it very, very alarming that we are sending or we are encouraging
-- or whatever -- cadets or even our high officers to Beijing. Please provide us with
a comprehensive result within a week. Can it be done within a week?
Yes, your Honor.
For initial clarification and subsequent updates on this question see,
Original Text Source: Transcription
and translation outsourced to professional service. Supplemental
transcription work by Michael E. Eidenmuller
Page Updated: 9/14/23
Page Updated: 9/14/23
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