A SENATOR called for online gaming companies, known as Philippine Offshore Gaming Operators (POGO), to locate their operations away from military bases.

Ilayo sa military bases, ilayo sa iskwelahan, ilayo sa simbahan, may mga ganyang basic rules (They need to be some distance from military bases, schools and churches, as a rule)“ Senator Aquilino L. Pimentel III, chair of the senate foreign relations committee, told reporters in a briefing Monday.

“And then siguro ’yung reasoning na ilayo sa military bases dahil baka may high-tech equipment na ginagamit doon (POGOs might have high-tech equipment which is why they should be located far from military bases).”

Mr. Pimentel also said the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. (PAGCOR) should explain its procedures for granting licenses to online gambling firms.

Dapat natin alamin sa PAGCOR, sila nagbibigay ng POGO license. Dapat ang POGO license, location specific(we need to find out from PAGCOR since they are issuing the licenses. The licenses should be location-specific).”

He assured Chinese Ambassador Zhao Jianhua that Overseas Filipino Workers in China are not “spies” after Mr. Zhao raised the possibility that Filipinos in China might be engaged in espionage.

Defense Secretary Delfin N. Lorenzana has called Mr. Zhao’s remarks “preposterous,” noting that OFWs go to China after securing working visas. Many Chinese nationals in the Philippines, meanwhile, arrive as tourists before getting working visas.

Mr. Lorenzana backed PAGCOR’s proposal to designate POGO hubs, as did Senate Minority Leader Franklin M. Drilon.

Senator Emmanuel Joel J. Villanueva, meanwhile, said the committee on labor, employment and human resources development will be looking into the POGO industry.

“OFWs there are mostly teachers who teach Chinese nationals the English language. By all means, they contribute positively to society there. Can we also say the same with Chinese workers in the POGO sector?” Mr. Villanueva told reporters in a phone message Monday.

“Aside from not creating jobs for Filipinos in the Philippines, the POGO industry has also brought a lot of unintended consequences.” This include rise in crime involving foreign nationals, money laundering and threats to national security. — Charmaine A. Tadalan