Thursday, June 13, 2024

Philippine Town Mayor Accused Of Being A Chinese Spy: ”No One Knows Where She Came From”

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Little is known about her background, which is unusual in rural Philippines.

Alice Leal Guo, the mayor of a small town in the Philippines, is currently being investigated due to suspicions about her citizenship, with some suggesting she might be an undercover agent of China. During a Senate hearing, the 35-year-old mayor failed to provide details about her early life and background, fuelling suspicions about her nationality and links to a Philippine offshore gaming operator. 

According to BBC, law enforcers recently discovered that an online casino – known locally as a POGO – in her town was a front for a scam centre. POGOs are online gaming firms that cater to foreign customers, especially nationals from China, where gambling is illegal. These businesses flourished during the tenure of Rodrigo Duterte, whose presidency, which ended in 2022, was marked by close ties to China.

”Is she, along with others like her who have mahiwaga [mysterious] backgrounds, an asset inserted by China into our government to have a heavy influence in Philippine politics?” Senator Risa Hontiveros asked during a press conference on May 8.

Little is known about her background, which is unusual in rural Philippines. Her family name, Guo, is also not among the common family names of Filipinos with Chinese lineage. During the hearing, the Mayor gave vague answers about her background, including basic personal questions about her family, school and similar facts, raising suspicions. 

Ms Guo admitted that her birth certificate was registered with local authorities only when she turned 17. When asked the reason for it, she said this was because she was born in a house, not in a hospital or clinic. 

She further said she was home-schooled exclusively inside the family compound, but could not remember the name of her home school organisation and names of teachers except one. She said her father is Filipino, but in business records, her father was identified as a Chinese citizen.

Senator Hontiveros described her as someone who ”figuratively came out of nowhere and afterwards became mayor”.

Meanwhile, Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos Junior told journalists that he supported the probe. 

”I know all the politicians from Tarlac [province], no one knows her. So, we are wondering where she came from. We don’t know. That’s why an investigation is really needed,” he said. 

“We will tighten the enforcement of the law. The laws are there, the problem is that some people think these people can bring money, or they will take bribes,” he added. 

However, Ms Guo has maintained she is a Philippine citizen and denied her involvement in unlawful gaming. She could be charged with perjury if it was proven she was not a Filipino citizen.

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