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DILG urges Ombudsman to suspend Alice Guo


The Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) has recommended to the Ombudsman the preventive suspension of Bamban, Tarlac Mayor Alice Guo, Secretary Benhur Abalos said on Friday.

In a statement, Abalos said the DILG created a task force last April 5 to look into Guo's alleged link to illegal activities of the Philippine Offshore Gaming Operator (POGO) in her town.

He said the task force, headed by Atty. Benjamin Zabala of DILG's Internal Audit Service, has submitted its report, and this in turn was submitted to the Ombudsman on Friday.

"Based on the report, there are troubling findings of serious illegal acts which may have severe legal implications," the DILG secretary said.

"The DILG recommended to the Ombudsman the issuance of a preventive suspension against Mayor Guo, to prevent any influence on the continuing investigations of our and other agencies," Abalos said, adding that the department "does not have the power to directly suspend or dismiss local officials."

"The DILG will continue to cooperate with the Ombudsman and other investigative bodies on this important issue, united in our shared mission of protecting our local institutions and furthering public interest," he added.

President Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr on Thursday said Guo had been under investigation for some time. 

''Well, matagal na naming inimbestigahan ‘yan, kaya naman nahuli ‘yan eh," Marcos said in an ambush interview in Cagayan de Oro City.

(We've been investigating her for a long time; that's why she was caught.)

"Dahil ni-raid natin ‘yung sa Bamban at nakita natin nga ‘yung mga dokumento, na kinukwestyon ngayon natin ‘yan, kung talagang totoo ‘tong mga 'to, at saka paano siya tumakbo ng mayor?'' Marcos said.

(We raided the place in Bamban and we saw the documents. We are now looking into these and also how she was able to run for mayor.)

Senator Sherwin Gatchalian earlier alleged Guo’s possible involvement with the Bamban POGO hub that was raided, citing a Sangguniang Bayan Resolution indicating that Guo — who was then a private citizen — supposedly applied for the license to operate the Hongsheng Gaming Technology Inc.

Hongsheng was raided in February 2023. The same compound was then used by Zun Yuan Technology Inc., the company that was raided this month.

Gatchalian said a list of vehicles found inside the premises of Zun Yuan Technology and verification with the Land Transportation Office (LTO) showed that one of the vehicles was registered under Guo's name.

Guo earlier rejected accusations she abetted the alleged illegal activities of Zun Yuan Technology Incorporated, which included human trafficking and illegal detention.

“I deny in the strongest terms all of these allegations of criminal conduct — or at least, allegations that I have somehow aided and abetted the supposedly Zun Yuan Technology Inc.,” she said.

“Human trafficking, torture, and illegal detention are heinous crimes that I never, ever tolerate, much less be involved in,” said Guo.

The mayor added she welcomed any investigation by the proper authorities at the proper forum.

On May 7, the Senate panel on women, children's, family relations and gender equality launched an investigation into the raided POGO hub in Bamban, which Senator Risa Hontiveros said may be possibly involved in surveillance activities and even the hacking of several government websites.

Guo, who attended the hearing, was also questioned over information linking her to the operations of the scam hub.

Hontiveros, in a separate press conference, asked Guo whether she was a Chinese citizen.

She expressed doubts about Guo's identity, saying the mayor had no official records to prove she was a Filipino.

"Totoo kaya na Chinese talaga si Mayor Alice Guo (Could it be true that Mayor Alice Guo is a Chinese national?)" she asked.

According to Hontiveros, Guo's name only floated during the 2022 elections and the latter has no hospital record of birth and no school records in the Philippines.

The senator noted that Guo only has a certificate of live birth, wherein it was declared that her father is a Filipino. However, Hontiveros said business records show that Guo's father declared that he is a Chinese national.

Guo has her registration of live birth but this was filed only when she was already 17 years old.

A "24 Oras" report said that Guo, at her proclamation rally on April 2, 2022, declared she was a Filipino citizen.

"Ako po si Alice Guo, taga Barangay Virgen delos Remedios. Ang nanay ko po ay Pilipina. Ang tatay ko po ay isang Chinese," Guo said then.

(I am Alice Guo from Barangay Virgen delos Remedios. My mother is a Filipina. My father is a Chinese.)

"Ako po ay isang Filipino citizen at may pusong Bamban," she told the campaign crowd.

(I am a Filipino citizen with a heart for Bamban.) —NB/KG, GMA Integrated News