DILG seeks suspension of Guo for ‘illegal acts’

DILG seeks suspension of Guo for ‘illegal acts’

By: - Reporter / @NCorralesINQ
/ 05:30 AM May 19, 2024

DILG seeks suspensionof Guo for ‘illegal acts’

Bamban Mayor Alice Guo —official Facebook page of Sen. Risa Hontiveros

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) has recommended to the Ombudsman the preventive suspension of Bamban Mayor Alice Guo “over troubling findings of illegal acts.”

In a statement on Saturday, Interior Secretary Benhur Abalos said the DILG created on April 5 a task force to probe Guo’s alleged link to illegal activities of a Philippine offshore gaming operator (Pogo) in her town.


He said the seven-man task force led by lawyer Benjamin Zabala of the DILG’s Internal Audit Service submitted its report to the Ombudsman on Friday.


READ: Guo makes her photos (with Marcos) do the talking

Pogo permit

Abalos said the preventive suspension of Guo was intended to prevent “any influence” from her on the continuing investigation by the DILG and other agencies.

“Based on the report, there are troubling findings of serious illegal acts which may have severe legal implications,” he added.

Abalos did not specify these illegal acts in his statement.

Lord Villanueva, the DILG undersecretary for operations, told the Inquirer in a phone interview that the findings included Guo’s questionable issuance of a mayor’s permit to the Pogo company and her ownership of 50 percent of Baofu Land Development Inc., which leased its property to the Pogo operator Hongsheng Gaming Technology Inc.

Business ties

“These are the main two issues that we found out,” Villanueva said. “She is in charge of issuing the business permit. Part of the responsibilities in issuing the business permit is to do inspections, right? You should know what kind of business you have in town. So, there are certain obligations there.”


According to him, the DILG task force also looked into Guo’s admission that she owned 50 percent of Baofu.

“It’s like she’s giving a permit to her own business so there is a lot of conflict of interest there,” he said. Villanueva said he could not provide more details “out of deference to the Ombudsman.”

“There is more to that, we have also seen documents and papers related to that but we leave those details to the Ombudsman to make the final determination regarding that,” he said.

Disciplinary authority

“Rest assured, we know that the Ombudsman is taking this very seriously and I am sure they are taking the appropriate actions on it,” Villanueva added.

In a Viber message to the Inquirer, Juan Victor Llamas, the interior undersecretary for external, legal and legislative affairs, echoed Villanueva’s remarks.

Ombudsman Samuel Martirez did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Abalos said in his statement that the DILG “does not have the power to directly suspend or dismiss local officials.”

“Hence, the DILG defers to the Ombudsman regarding any sanctions that may be imposed against Guo, in line with its disciplinary authority over elective officials of local governments under Section 21 of Republic Act No. 6770,” he said, referring to the Ombudsman Act of 1989.

Under this law, the Office of the Ombudsman “shall have disciplinary authority over all elective and appointive officials of the government” and its agencies, Cabinet members, local officials and government-owned or -controlled corporations and their subsidiaries. Impeachable officials are not covered.

The DILG, Abalos said, would 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.”

SolGen probe

The Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) had earlier launched an investigation to determine if Guo has the legal right to hold public office amid questions about her citizenship and other credentials.

Solicitor General Menardo Guevarra said the OSG’s task force would see “if there is good reason to believe that the subject is unlawfully holding or exercising public office.”

President Marcos told reporters on May 16 that Guo “should really be investigated.”

Risa-led inquiry

“I know all the politicians in Tarlac, and no one knows her. We’re wondering where she came from. How did this happen? We don’t know,” the President said.

Soon after that, Guo posted on her social media accounts a picture of her and the President standing side by side.

Sen. Risa Hontiveros, who had opened an inquiry into Pogo operations, had said that Guo might be a Chinese “asset” trained to infiltrate and influence the government, citing her nebulous background.

During a recent hearing, Hontiveros noted that Guo’s birth was only registered in 2013, or 17 years after she was supposedly born in 1986.

She said that Chinese nationals who allegedly obtained authentic Philippine passports and other legitimate government documents presented late registered birth certificates.

“Is Guo, like all others who have a mysterious past, an asset that China sent to enter our government for them to have an influence in Philippine politics?” Hontiveros asked.

Guo was invited to a Senate investigation after authorities raided the 7.9-hectare Baofu property in Bamban town, on March 13, after a Vietnamese worker escaped from a Pogo firm leasing one of the buildings there.

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The Pogo hub is suspected of spying and hacking government websites.

TAGS: Benhur Abalos, DILG, Ombudsman, pogo

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