Published On: Tue, Aug 20th, 2019

South China Sea latest World War 3 news: Philippine Defence Secretary sparks spy row | World | News

Defence Secretary Delfin Lorenzana had called for online casinos operating near Philippine military camps to be relocated due to fears they may be used as spies by Beijing. When Beijing’s ambassador in Manila Zhao Jianhua suggested Philippine workers in China could do the same, Mr Lorenzana rejected the statement. According to South China Morning Post, he explained: “That’s the most preposterous statement I’ve heard in a long while.

“There are no POGO-like (Philippines offshore gaming operations) centres in China that can be operated purely by Filipinos near Chinese military camps.”

A majority of the 138,000 POGO workers in The Philippines are Chinese and businesses mainly cater to the Chinese market.

Gambling is illegal in Mainland China as the Government does not consider two state run lotteries as gambling.

In the special administrative region of Hong Kong, gambling involving a bookmaker is illegal and thus only the monopoly granted by the city government to Hong Kong Jockey Club allows the institution to offer odds on house racing on Wednesday and Sundays, lotteries and overseas football matches.

The other special administrative region of Macau is the largest gambling hub in the world, with Portugal’s colonial Government legalising it in the 1850s.

72 percent of tourists into Macau come from the mainland.

Mr Lorenzana on Sunday said: “Knowing that Chinese companies are mandated by the Chinese government to assist in intel collection for their government, it is not far-fetched that individuals, likewise, could be compelled to do so.”

After the counterclaim from Mr Zhao, he added: “It could be just coincidental these were the only facilities offered for POGO operations. I believe that the POGO workers are here just for work only.

READ MORE: Australia urged to take key defensive measures against China

Beijing and Manila are locked in bitter disputes over the South China Sea.

China has the largest claim to the disputed water that carries one-third of international shipping each year.

The claims of China overlaps with Philippine claims over Scarborough Shoal and the Spratly Islands.

A 2016 ruling from The Hague dismissed China’s claims to rights to resources within the nine-dash line go having no legal basis.

Beijing has rejected the ruling.

Manila has opted not to enforce the ruling and assert its rights over its exclusive economic zone deeming trade and diplomatic relations as too value under the administration of Rodrigo Duterte.

However, with Mr Duterte’s term coming to an end in 2022 and electoral law forbidding him from standing again he has suggested he is read to shift his policy.

Mr Lorenzana has been Mr Duterte’s only National Defence Secretary.

He was a Major General in The Philippine Army.

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