‘No evidence yet of Chinese spies in POGOs’

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    THE PNP yesterday said it has yet to gather any evidence to prove China has been using Philippine Offshore Gaming Operators (POGO) hubs for intelligence gathering in the country.

    PNP spokesman Brig. Gen. Bernard Banac, in a press briefing in Camp Crame, allayed fears raised by Sen. Richard Gordon that China has infiltrated the country through POGOs for espionage.

    Gordon rang the alarm bell following last week’s killing of a Chinese online gaming worker in Makati City, which was purportedly carried out by two suspected members of China’s People’s Liberation Army. The suspects yielded PLA identification cards and handguns when arrested.

    Many sectors last year expressed fears China is using the POGOs to spy on the Philippines, particularly on the Armed Forces, because of their proximity to military camps.

    Banac said the PNP had been looking into concerns the POGOs are being used to spy on the Philippines but said they have yet to gather evidence to confirm such fears.

    “We have no report to prove they are spies. There’s no indication or evidence to prove they are spies),” Banac said, adding that the police force have been closely monitoring POGOs due to the rise in the number of kidnapping incidents involving Chinese POGO workers by their fellow workers.

    Banac said the supposed PLA IDs recovered by the police after the Makati City shooting incident were not owned by the two suspects – Yang Chao Wen and Liang Yuan Wu.

    “Batay sa huling ulat na binigay sa atin, ang mga IDs na ‘yun ay hindi sa kanila. Hindi nila pangalangan at hindi rin nila mga larawan ang naroon. (Based on the latest reports we got, they are not the owners of the IDs. These were not under their names and the pictures were not theirs),” he said.

    Banac said the PNP is coordinating with the Chinese embassy to determine the owners of the IDs. He said the PNP is confident the Chinese embassy will be able to give an answer to their query.

    National Capital Region Police Office (NCRPO) chief Debold Sinas said the two passports recovered from the shooting incident in Makati City last February 27 were fakes.

    Sinas added that the owners were likewise not member of the Chinese military or police.

    “We have already coordinated with the police attaché in China, and they said that they don’t belong to any security force in China,” Sinas said.

    According to Sinas, the Chinese police attaché said the pictures in the passports were replaced to make it appear that the two were its owners.

    “We have to believe on the report of the police attaché, we don’t have any reason to be doubt them,” he added.

    Chief Presidential Legal Counsel and concurrent presidential spokesman Salvador Panelo asked Gordon to help police authorities by sharing information, if he has any, of the Chinese spies in the country.

    “If the good Senator has information on that, I think they should provide us with intelligence reports so that we can pursue their line of belief on that matter,” he said.

    Asked if Malacañang will do its own probe into the issue, Panelo said it “most likely will” but said the Palace will wait for the results of an investigations being done by the Senate on the POGOs.

    “Anything that goes against the interest of the country is a cause of concern by this government, and for that matter, any government,” he added. – With Noel Talacay and Jocelyn Montemayor