Opposition Senator Leila M. de Lima has urged the Duterte administration to heed the warning by the Department of National Defense (DND) about the proximity of Philippine Offshore Gaming Operators (POGO) hubs to vital military camps.
“The government should seriously consider the DND’s warning about the POGO’s location to our main military installations. I think there’s a lot more to it than meets the eye,” said De Lima, a social justice and human rights champion.
According to her, Malacanang should not disregard the serious concern of the Cabinet’s top defense official like Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana who raised the possibility that these POGO hubs could easily turn their activity to spying.
“It’s better to err on the side of caution. It’s even beyond caution, a cause for serious concern. We cannot set aside the possibility that these POGO hubs could be used for illegal activities that could compromise the safety and sovereignty of our country,” she warned.
Lorenzana has earlier expressed apprehension about the close location of existing and upcoming POGO establishments to several military camps in Metro Manila and nearby province of Cavite.
He noticed that POGO hubs in Araneta Center and Eastwood in Quezon City are located near the headquarters of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the Philippine National Police (PNP) in Camp Aguinaldo and Camp Crame, respectively.
Some POGO hubs in Taguig are near the Philippine Army’s headquarters in Fort Bonifacio and Villamor Air Base in Pasay while the 36-hectare POGO island in Kawit, Cavite, which could house around 50,000 Chinese workers, is close to the Sangley Point Naval Base in Cavite City.
The lady Senator from Bicol earlier warned that the establishment of the “Pogo Island” in Kawit, Cavite and in other parts of the country could be the beginning of a creeping Chinese invasion.
This 18th Congress, she filed Senate Resolution (SR) No. 64 to inquire into the exact nature, terms and parameters of the reported “verbal fishing agreement” with China, and determine whether it is an executive agreement or international treaty requiring the Senate concurrence.
She also filed SR 93 calling for the cancellation of the development agreements involving Fuga, Grande and Chiquita islands to protect our country from risks posed by China’s aggressive military activities in the Asia Pacific region,
In the previous 17th Congress, De Lima filed SR No. 751 to investigate the surge of Chinese workers in the Philippines, notably in the POGO industry, which threatens to steal jobs away from ordinary Filipinos.
She also asked her colleagues, through Senate Resolution No. 1030, to look into the reported failure of POGO firms to comply with government regulations on foreign workers, notably in paying appropriate personal income taxes.
De Lima noted that the arrival of Chinese workers has not only triggered a property surge on many developed areas but has unfortunately displaced poor families who were evicted from their homes to accommodate Chinese businesses.
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