DEFENSE Secretary Delfin Lorenzana on Friday, August 16, said Philippine Offshore Gaming Operations (Pogo) establishments currently situated near military camps should be relocated.
They should instead be located in hubs, where their operations would be easy to regulate.
"I support the idea na to put them in a hub na malayo sa mga kampo. Doon lang sila para ma-control sila ng authorities saka ng Finance naman saka ng Immigration," he said.
Lorenzana said Pogo establishments near military camps might be used for spying.
"That is very concerning kasi until such time na nakita ko 'yung mga mapa, malalapit na rito... especially example (Camp) Aguinaldo, meron diyan sa Araneta Center, sa Eastwood," Lorenzana said.
"Ako personally I think there should be no need to worry but kung makikita mo na 'yung maraming tao na nandiyan, it's very easy for these people to shift their activities to spying," he added.
As of June 2019, there were 56 licensed Pogo establishments being operated by Chinese businessmen in the country.
These employ 100,000 to 250,000 Chinese nationals.
At least 30 others are believed to be operating illegaly.
Lorenzana admitted that Pogo operations are helping the country economically.
"We are making a lot of money out of these Pogo workers. To now question bakit sila nandito is parang hindi ba magkatugma," he said.
For his part, Armed Forces of the Philippines Chief of Staff Benjamin Madrigal noted the importance of balance between the country's development and security.
"At the end of the day, sabi nga maliban sa ating mga maaaring sources of income, dapat kasama rito 'yung pangangalaga. 'Yung alam naman siguro natin na 'yung all other security considerations in undertaking these activities naisasama natin," he said.
Madrigal said the military is looking into possible espionage in Pogo operations and how to prevent these.
"Of course lahat ng ito tinitingnan natin ano. Ang sabi nga without being paranoid, of course we can always... meron tayong high-low na sinasabi na ganyan yung possibilities," he said. (SunStar Philippines)