DND: Teodoro says Pogo a national security concern

DND: Teodoro says Pogo a national security concern

/ 05:53 PM June 13, 2024

The Department of National Defense (DND) on Thursday said its chief, Gilberto Teodoro Jr., only referred to the Philippine Offshore Gaming Operation (Pogo) as a national security concern.

Defense Secretary Gilberto Teodoro Jr. during the Manila Overseas Press Club event in Makati City on January 23, 2024. INQUIRER.net file photo / NOY MORCOSO

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of National Defense (DND) on Thursday said its chief, Gilberto Teodoro Jr., only referred to the Philippine Offshore Gaming Operation (Pogo) as a national security concern.

DND spokesperson Arsenio Andolong said that Teodoro did not say that Pogos now constitute a “national security threat,” as some news agencies reported.

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The DND’s press statement on Wednesday only referred to Pogos as a “national security concern.”

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“Concern is very different from a threat,” Andolong told INQUIRER.net in a phone interview.

Andolong continued: “A concern merely means that the matter deserves more scrutiny and investigation. When you classify an entity, an actor, or a phenomenon as a threat, that means that that particular entity, actor, and phenomenon underwent a process of vetting, investigation, and fact-finding before it is classified as a threat. He did not mean a threat because [the Pogo issue] should be studied more. I think he was very clear there.”

On Thursday, National Security Adviser Eduardo Año said the existence of Pogo sites in the country does not yet constitute a “national security threat” that would need military involvement like in cases of terrorism and insurgency.

Rather, Año said it is only a national concern that the police and civilian agencies could still handle.

Andolong also clarified Teodoro’s remark on “bases.” He said Teodoro was referring to the country as a whole and not pertaining to military bases.

INQUIRER.net and other news outlets initially reported that Teodoro called for the closure of Pogos near military bases.

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Teodoro was quoted in a DND statement as saying: “The concern is that we should stop these syndicated criminal activities operating out of our base, which weaken our financial standing, our country ratings, [and] corrupt our society.”

But Andolong said: “The ‘base’ he was referring to is our financial, economic base—basically our country. He was not referring to a military camp or, in some reports, Edca sites, which is very far from what he meant.”

Edca, or the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement sites, are Philippine military bases where the United States is allowed to store equipment and deploy troops.

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“He did not say anything, as alleged in some news reports, that Pogo facilities near military camps should be shut down. He was purely referring to the effect on our country’s ratings and economy and the effects it will have as a whole,” he further said.

TAGS: Department of National Defense (DND), Gilbert Teodoro Jr., POGO

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