Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana has warned against placing Philippine online gaming operations (POGOs) near military facilities, fearing these outfits could eventually be used for espionage.

Lorenzana told reporters he had no opposition to building POGO hubs to confine Chinese workers in one area, but said these should be far away from military camps.

“So I support the idea to put them in a hub na malayo sa mga kampo (that are far away from the camps). Doon lang sila (They should stay there), para ma-control sila ng (so they could be controlled by) authorities,” he said.

Lorenzana warned that it would be “very easy” for large groups of POGO workers to “shift their activities to spying,” if they wanted to do so.

He noted that the business districts offering spaces for POGO hubs are close to military camps, such as Araneta Center and Eastwood near Camps Crame and Aguinaldo in Quezon City; Resorts World Manila that is close to Villamor Airbase; and Island Cove near the Philippine Marines in Cavite.

In July, two groups of Chinese tourists were caught by authorities taking photos of a naval facility in Palawan, which is close to the contested Kalayaan Islands in the West Philippine Sea.

The Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. said early this month the proposed POGO hubs were meant to make life convenient for their Chinese workers as well as protect them.

Andrea Domingo, head of the state-owned gaming operator, issued the statement after the Chinese embassy in Manila expressed concern the hubs would violate Chinese workers’ rights. (