Comelec: Bamban mayor may face perjury charge

Comelec: Bamban mayor may face perjury charge

By: - Reporter / @dexcabalzaINQ
/ 05:45 AM May 14, 2024

Alice Guo George Garcia

Bamban Mayor Alice Guo and Comelec Chair George Garcia

MANILA, Philippines — While it has already distanced itself from the issue, the Commission on Elections (Comelec) said embattled Bamban, Tarlac Mayor Alice Guo may be charged with perjury if she is proven to have misrepresented herself as a Filipino citizen when she filed her candidacy.

After a Senate hearing on Monday, Comelec Chair George Garcia said “there was a possibility” that some candidates in the 2022 elections, including Guo, had submitted fake documents, particularly about her Filipino citizenship, that allowed her to run as mayor of the municipality.


“If it is proven by the court that she is not really a Filipino citizen, then she can be liable or be charged with perjury,” Garcia told reporters.


READ: Bamban mayor’s background dubious, says Hontiveros

The Comelec only requires aspiring candidates to submit a certificate of candidacy (COC), in which they declare they are Filipino citizens. Candidates in local positions in the country may be natural-born Filipinos or foreign nationals who become naturalized Filipino citizens.

Ministerial role

Garcia stressed that the Comelec’s role was only “ministerial,” with aspiring candidates only required to submit accomplished COCs under current laws and jurisprudence.

“The Comelec presumes that all the information the candidates put in their COCs are correct until a disqualification or cancellation of candidacy case is filed by a registered voter,” he said.

“The Comelec has no right to reject a COC submitted to us. As long as all the items are filled out, we will accept it, regardless if the information they provided are not true,” the poll body chief added.


Based on their verification, Garcia said no one from Bamban had filed a disqualification or opposed Guo’s application for candidacy, which she filed in April 2021 — more than a year before the May 9, 2022, national and local elections. This was why the Election Registration Board consequently approved her COC.

The Comelec stressed that its jurisdiction over a local candidate would be effective only from filing the COC up to their proclamation.

Garcia’s suggestion

Garcia previously suggested that Bamban voters file a petition for quo warranto before a regional trial court, questioning Guo’s citizenship.

A quo warranto (literally “by what authority”) is an extraordinary legal remedy to challenge the claim to public office. Should the court grant such a petition against Guo, her proclamation as Bamban mayor would be declared null and void ab initio (from the beginning).

Former Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno was removed from office through a quo warranto case before the high court in 2018, which then Solicitor General Jose Calida initiated.

During a May 7 inquiry, Sen. Risa Hontiveros questioned Guo’s identity, saying the mayor had no official records to prove she was a Filipino, and asked whether she was a Chinese citizen.

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The senator later raised the possibility that Guo might be a Chinese “asset” trained to infiltrate and influence the Philippine government as they found no hospital birth record or school records for her. She added that Guo practically “came out of nowhere” before she won in 2022 as an independent candidate.

Hontiveros led an inquiry into the March 13 raid on a compound hosting a Philippine offshore gaming operator (Pogo) under Guo’s jurisdiction. She said state intelligence agencies gave her “persuasive information” linking the Pogo hub to surveillance operations and the hacking of government websites. —with a report from Tina G. Santos

TAGS: Alice Guo, Bamban, CoC, Comelec, George Garcia, quo warranto

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