By Hannah Torregoza
Senate minority leader Franklin Drilon on Monday said he supports Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana’s proposal to relocate Philippine offshore gaming operations (POGO) away from military camps, saying its close proximity to such facilities spell danger.
“I support Sec. Lorenzana’s recommendation on POGO location. The security aspect is something that we cannot just brush aside,” Drilon said in an interview with CNN Philippines.
“I cannot understand why we cannot have POGO locations farther away from military camps,” Drilon said.
Drilon, likewise, said there is “certainly great merit into looking at the possibility of closing down POGOs.”
He also pointed out how Filipinos were deprived of opportunities to earn a living in the POGO industry, which employs thousands of Chinese workers.
“I am against gambling,” he said, noting that gambling is banned in China, while other countries, including Cambodia, closed down online gambling.
“Why should we allow our country to be China’s biggest casino?” asked Drilon.
At the same time, Drilon rejected the Chinese embassy’s statement that overseas Filipino workers in China might also be suspected of spying.
“Sec. Lorenzana is a competent official and his job is to advise us on matters of security. He has nothing but good intentions. We should defer to him,” he said.
Drilon said the fact that POGO workers could be used for information gathering is not a remote possibility.
“We don’t know. Maybe not right now, but it gives them the opportunity when there’s a need for it. It’s convenient when there is a need for it. Why should we leave that chance unchecked?” Drilon stressed.
He said the idea that Filipino workers in China could be engaged in spying activities for the Philippines is simply beyond the realm of possibilities.
“This is absurd and simply beyond the realm of possibilities. Our OFWs are there to earn a living,” Drilon said.