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Zarate: POGOS are a threat to national security

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Bayan Muna party-list Rep. Carlos Zarate on Monday said Malacañang’s insistence for the continued operations of Philippine offshore gaming operators (POGOs) “puts our country’s national security and social fabric in grave peril.”

“As they are, POGOs are like China’s version of the US Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) and EDCA here in the Philippines, as far as the national security threats and anti-social activities they breed,” said the Makabayan lawmaker

“Reports say that at least 3000 Pogo workers that come and go in the country like that under the VFA are undercover Peoples Liberation Army (PLA) soldiers of China,” he said.

“Yet, despite billions of intelligence funds, all we hear from the security sector is that they are still validating it. That is the height of sloppy work, even incompetence,” Zarate said.

“These POGOs have also become a hub of anti-social activities like gambling, prostitution,money laundering and illegal drugs just like the US bases then,” he added.

“Also, as we have pointed out before, the security concerns raised against POGOs are very valid because China has the means, capacity and motive to use these hubs for its own military, political and other purposes,” said the Davao-based solon.

“POGOs in the country are located near military and police bases like Camp Aguinaldo (Armed Forces of the Philippines); Camp Crame (Philippine National Police); Camp Bagong Diwa (PNP National Capital Region Police Office); Fort Bonifacio (Philippine Army); Villamor Air Base (Philippine Air Force); and the Philippine Navy headquarters in Manila. Also, with modern technology, these hubs can easily be turned into spying sites,” he said.

“China may, directly or indirectly, use these POGO hubs, especially with their aggressive and militaristic stance in the West Philippine Sea (WPS) and we have been calling since last year to stop the operations of POGOs in the Philippines because it endangers the lives of Filipinos,” he said.