By Kenneth Christiane L. Basilio

MEMBERS of the progressive bloc in the House of Representatives have filed a resolution aimed at investigating China’s alleged recruitment of Filipino military personnel and the presence of Chinese sleeper cells in the Philippines.

“The number of reports on dubious Chinese activities in the country is increasing,” Party-list Rep. France L. Castro said in a statement on Wednesday.

Ms. Castro and her fellow Makabayan bloc members filed on Monday House Resolution No. 1682 which sought to examine alleged Chinese activities in the Philippines in response to fears that they could destabilize the country.

“The alleged recruitment of Filipino active and retired military personnel by foreign-based firms… and the alleged existence of sleeper cells in the country are serious matters of national security,” read the resolution.

Ms. Castro noted the alleged presence of Chinese sleeper cells — secret groups of China’s People’s Liberation Army personnel — as alarming in addition to Chinese involvement in other crimes associated with Philippine Offshore Gaming Operators (POGO).

“Amidst the escalating aggressive actions of China… as well as the ‘secret deal’ between former Pres. Rodrigo Duterte and Chinese Pres. Xi Jinping, reports of supposed Chinese operations to recruit active and retired AFP (Armed Forces of the Philippines) and PNP (Philippine National Police) personnel have surfaced,” she said.

The PNP said it is investigating the alleged existence of Chinese sleeper cells in the country last November.

Sought for comment, the Chinese Embassy in Manila addressed the allegations by sending a link of its statement last month which read: “Those are merely malicious speculation and groundless accusation against China with the purpose of inciting Sinophobic sentiments in the Philippines.”

Welcoming the probe, Surigao del Norte Rep. Robert Ace S. Barbers reiterated his call that the House also investigate the influx of Chinese nationals near the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) military sites in Cagayan province in Northern Luzon as they may pose security risks for the country.

“The deployment, land purchases, and business creation by Chinese nationals near EDCA sites demand attention from our agencies,” Mr. Barbers said on Wednesday.

On Tuesday, he scored the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) and the Bureau of Immigration (BI) and other government agencies for allowing suspicious arrivals of Chinese nationals, some of whom have acquired Philippine documents like passports, birth certificates, and driver’s licenses, among others.

He alleged a “Chinese mafia” was providing Philippine documentation to Chinese nationals. “What have these agencies done to counter document tampering?” Mr. Barbers questioned.