Pogo sites near PH military bases likened to ‘Trojan horse’

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Pogo sites near Philippine military bases likened to ‘Trojan horse’

By: - Reporter /
/ 06:14 PM June 11, 2024

Pogo sites near Philippine military bases likened to ‘Trojan horse’

ҹ FILE PHOTO

MANILA, Philippines — Philippine Offshore Gaming Operation (Pogo) sites, especially those near military bases, may become a “Trojan horse” that can be used by China to stage a “surprise attack” in the country, a security expert said.

Chester Cabalza, president and founder of Manila-based think tank International Development and Security Cooperation, sounded the alarm but the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) said there are contingency measures in place.

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“The Pogos are deemed as a Trojan horse that can stage a surprise attack in the Philippines for their unrestricted warfare,” Cabalza told ҹ in a text message on Tuesday.

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READ: Pogo raid in Pampanga yields suspected Chinese military uniforms, pins

For her part, AFP spokesperson Col. Francel Margareth Padilla also on Tuesday said the military “will have the necessary contingency measures” for this.

“These are realities that we are facing; these are contemporary challenges, and we are looking at its implications towards national security,” Padilla said in a regular AFP press conference in Camp Aguinaldo.

Chinese uniforms may be ‘props’

Padilla made the reaction amid suspicious findings in a recent raid on Pogo sites.

Chinese military uniforms and pins were found in a raided Pogo hub in Pampanga on Monday.

Padilla, who noted that Pogos are known to engage in various illegal activities, including online scams, downplayed this finding in a bid to avoid what she deemed as “unnecessary panic.”

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“The presence of Chinese military uniforms may likely be used as props in these illicit online transactions,” Padilla told reporters in a statement on Tuesday. “The limited number of PLA (People’s Liberation Army) uniforms found suggests they are more indicative of use in deceptive activities rather than any preparation for an invasion.”

“We do not want to cause unnecessary panic,” she said.

A Singaporean-based security analyst also raised a less grim possibility of these uniforms coming from demobilized PLA personnel.

“While there’s certainly a possible risk of PLA servicemen being infiltrated into [the Philippines], another factor worth considering is that every year, large batches of PLA servicemen are demobilized and usually find jobs abroad – and they brought their rugged fatigues along as work attire,” said Singapore-based research fellow Collin Koh of S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies in a post on X (formerly Twitter) on Tuesday.

Espionage

There are also lingering suspicions as to the location of Pogo sites near the key military installations.

A former island resort called Island Cove in Kawit, Cavite, has been retrofitted into a Pogo site after being sold by the Remulla family in 2018. The site is just a few kilometers away from Sangley Point, a former US base in Cavite province.

READ: Chinese casinos near PH military camps worry DND

There are also Chinese casinos and Pogo sites near Metro Manila military headquarters including AFP’s Camp Aguinaldo and the Philippine National Police headquarters Camp Crame in Quezon City; the Philippine Air Force headquarters in Pasay City; the Philippine Army headquarters in Taguig City and the Philippine Navy headquarters in Manila.

Cabalza expressed alarm on the location of this development, saying it undermines the country’s national security.

“The key strategic locations of Pogos are also sensitive to our national security since it becomes a perimeter for espionage,” he said.

Senator Risa Hontiveros has also urged the National Security Council to declare Pogo as a national security threat.

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But Commodore Roy Vincent Trinidad, naval spokesperson for the West Philippine Sea, said Pogo has yet to reach the point of becoming a national security threat, but he noted its “deep” involvement in incidents beyond “common crimes” must be looked into.

“We have yet to reach the point; the moment we get there there will be an appropriate announcement to be made,” Trinidad said.

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“[But] right now, we are looking into deeper connections of the Pogo to other violations, which may go beyond common crimes,” he added.

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