MANILA – The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) on Thursday said it is now verifying reports that a “good number” of China’s People Liberation Army soldiers are now in the country.
“We are in the process of validating the report of Senator (Panfilo) Lacson that being a matter of serious concern,” said AFP chief, Gen. Felimon Santos Jr., in a message to reporters.
Santos’ remark came after Lacson said an estimated “2,000 to 3,000” PLA members are in the Philippines, a piece of information the senator said needs validation by the country’s intelligence community.
Lacson added that it is possible that these PLA members are undergoing an immersion mission for still unknown purposes in the Philippines.
“I have my staff for intelligence to confirm said reports in coordination with other relevant agencies of government,” Santos said.
China’s PLA consists of five branches — ground force, navy, air force, rocket force, and strategic force — and is the largest in the world.
In a radio interview last week, Senator Richard Gordon, said PLA members are likely using Philippine Offshore Gaming Operations (POGOs) for intelligence gathering in the country.
He claimed that PLA members may have infiltrated POGOs for intelligence gathering after identification cards of alleged PLA members were discovered from two arrested Chinese suspects in a shooting incident in Makati City last week.
On Thursday, Gordon led the hearing of the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee on illegal activities such as espionage, money laundering, and prostitution which are associated with POGOs in the country. (IA/PNA)