August 19, 2019
President Rodrigo Duterte was not worried about a number of Chinese nationals working near military bases in the country, Malacanang said on Monday.
In a press briefing, Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said Duterte has expressed confidence that the government has the capability of knowing what these Chinese nationals have been doing, the same way that China could also spy on the Philippines even thousands of miles away using technology.
"He is not worried because we have the intelligence capability on knowing what they are doing," he said.
"Another thing, the President said that with respect to the proximity. President said any foreign national working here, group, need not be near the military camps in order to get intelligence, because considering the high-tech, even if you are 1,000 miles away, they can spy on us if they want. Moreover, the President said, countries do spy on each other, that’s I think SOP (standard operating procedure) for all countries," Panelo added.
Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana earlier raised concern over Chinese casinos or the Philippine offshore gaming operators near military camps in Metro Manila.
Among the locations were near the Armed Forces of the Philippines general headquarters and the Philippine National Police headquarters, both in Quezon City, the Air Force headquarters in Pasay City, the Philippine Army headquarters in Taguig City and the Philippine Navy headquarters on Roxas Boulevard.
Malacanang echoed the statements of Lorenzana and Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Ernesto Pernia that overseas Filipino workers in China could not be spies of the Philippine government.
"The Office of the President shares the sentiment of Secretary Lorenzana and Secretary Pernia when they said that the OFW went to China for the purpose of work. Moreover, there is no place where they converge to work," Panelo said.
He issued the remarks after Chinese Ambassador Zhao Jianhua sent a text message to Panelo to relay to Lorenzana the envoy's answer on the concern of the Defense chief regarding the presence of thousands of Chinese nationals working in casinos near the military bases.
Zhao has said China could also suspect Filipino workers of espionage.
Panelo said the possible suspicion of China for Filipino workers would not apply.
"Unlike the concern of Secretary Lorenzana, it's just on one place and near the camp. So it does not apply," he said. Celerina Monte/DMS
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