“Knowing that Chinese companies are mandated by the Chinese government to assist in intel collection for their government, it is not far fetched that individuals likewise could be compelled to do so,” National Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said in a statement August 18.
On August 17, Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said Chinese Ambassador Zhao Jianhua told him in a text message “What if we also think that your overseas workers are also spying on us. What can you say about that?”
Secretary Lorenzana said “That’s the most preposterous statement I heard in a long while.”
He explained that “POGO workers here are not comparable to OFWs in China. POGO workers came over for a different purpose, e.g., likely just tourism, but eventually got visas to work in an activity at the POGO centers operating gambling operations which is prohibited in China.”
“The OFWs go to China for specific work that’s legitimate there with Chinese visas. They are more like Chinese nationals working in construction projects here in the Philippines, as mutually agreed upon by both countries,” he added.
He added that “Filipinos are widely dispersed in China, working in homes and schools that are far away from military camps. The POGO Centers here, meanwhile, are very near military camps and naval bases.”
“It could be just coincidental because these were the only facilities offered for POGO operations and I believe that the POGO workers are here only just for work only. What I am alarmed is the potential that they could be tapped for info gathering purposes,” the national defense chief said.
“That is why I support the relocation of the Pogo centers to eco zones that are not proximate to military camps,” he said.