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‘Chinese spy’ tagged Philippine mayor appeals suspension

Alice Guo was suspended from duties after being accused of falsified identity and crimes including trafficking and gambling
Alice Guo is seen in this undated image.

Alice Guo is seen in this undated image. (Photo: Facebook)

Published: June 07, 2024 12:24 PM GMT
Updated: June 08, 2024 04:03 AM GMT

A popular mayor of a Philippine farming town has appealed against her suspension after she was tagged a “Chinese spy” on social media and accused of having links with illegal gambling and human trafficking.

Alice Guo, 37, the first woman mayor of Bamban town in the largely agricultural Tarlac province of the central Luzon region of the Philippines, filed the motion with the Office of the Ombudsman on June 6, local media reported.

In her appeal, Guo said the complaints  against her alleged links to the criminal activities of the Philippine Offshore Gaming Operator (POGO) in her town are “baseless.” 

POGOs are Chinese-run online casino gaming firms that flourished in the Philippines during President Rodrigo Duterte's term.

Guo’s appeal said the accusations against her were "erroneous" and "based on misapprehension of facts and laws.”

Her appeal came after Ombudsman Samuel Martires suspended Guo and two other local officials on May 31, following a complaint from the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) Undersecretary Juan Victor Llamas.

The complaint accused Guo and the other two of “committing grave misconduct, serious dishonesty, gross neglect of duty and conduct prejudicial to the best interest of the service.”

Guo won the mayoral election in 2022 in Bamban, a town of some 78,000 residents.

However, about a year after her election, questions were raised about her identity and alleged links to a POGO hub, criminal groups, and the Chinese Communist Party (CCP).

The investigators alleged Guo’s links to criminal offenses, including illegal trafficking and detention, scams, and fraud.

During a Senate hearing in May, Guo could not answer questions about her family history and upbringing, triggering further controversies. One senator even asked whether she was an “asset” of Beijing.

"I want to tell the public: I am not a spy. I am a Filipino and love my country," Guo told the ABS-CBN News channel on May 20.

According to BBC News, her father is Chinese, and her mother is a Filipina.

Some slam the Philippine state agencies that cleared her before the 2022 mayoral polls in Bamban.

Others doubt if Guo was a victim of bitter Philippine-China relations stemming from a dispute over the resource-rich South China Sea that intensified after Marcos came to power and attempted to strengthen ties with the US.

China deployed dozens of ships in the disputed waters in recent months, triggering strong condemnation from the Philippines.

Chinese navy reportedly fired water cannons to disperse Filipino fisher folks living on islands in the disputed water.

Senator Risa Hontiveros told reporters on May 30 that Guo’s Chinese father Jian Zhong Guo is one of the incorporators of her business empire.

Hontiveros said that Guo’s supposed parents do not have birth records in the Philippine Statistics Authority, which raises questions about how Guo has become a Filipino citizen.

Following her suspension, Guo’s team said she is ready to undergo a DNA test if required.

She also said she will not resign and would seek re-election next year.

Migrants’ rights advocate Garry Martinez said the case questions the efficacy of the Philippine government systems.

“If she is truly Chinese and did all this, maybe we must investigate not just her citizenship. How many others like her got through? What effect does this have on national security?” Martinez told UCA News.

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