Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana on Sunday slammed the idea floated by Chinese Ambassador Zhao Jianhua that Filipino workers in China may be engaging in spying activities.

In a statement, Lorenzana said overseas Filipino workers in China are “widely dispersed” unlike the Chinese who work in Philippine offshore gaming operation (Pogo) sites near military and police camps.

“That’s the most preposterous statement I heard in a long while,” said Lorenzana.

“The Filipinos (in China) are widely dispersed, working in homes and schools away from military camps. The Pogo centers, meanwhile, are very near military camps and naval bases,” he said.

Lorenzana added that Chinese individuals may be compelled to engage in spying since Chinese companies are mandated by their government to assist in intelligence collection.

“I believe that the Pogo workers are here just for work only. What I am alarmed is the potential that they could be tapped for info gathering purposes,” he said.

Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo, meanwhile, said Zhao and Lorenzana were simply expressing their opinions.

“Opinion lang ni Ambassador Zhao ‘yon. Siguro in response to the statement of the Secretary of National Defense. Kaya nga he was expressing an opinion and Secretary Lorenzana was also expressing an opinion,” Panelo said Sunday in a radio interview.

Lorenzana earlier raised concerns about the presence of Chinese gaming operations near military camps, saying Pogo workers could easily switch to spying activities.

In response, Zhao told Malacañang that China could likewise think of OFWs as spies, according to Panelo. (