Who is Alice Guo, Bamban mayor suspected of being a Chinese asset?

Joann Manabat, Miriam Grace A. Go

This is AI generated summarization, which may have errors. For context, always refer to the full article.

Who is Alice Guo, Bamban mayor suspected of being a Chinese asset?

HOT SEAT. Bamban Mayor Alice Guo during a joint Senate committee hearing last May 7.

Senator Risa Hontiveros Facebook page

(1st UPDATE) The mayor, whom Senator Hontiveros says 'came out of nowhere,' registered as a voter only when she was in her '30s

TARLAC, Philippines – Two years ago, 35-year-old Alice Leal Guo was celebrated for being the first female mayor of Bamban, a small, second-class municipality in the province of Tarlac, north of Manila.

Now, she’s the subject of memes after she claimed at a Senate hearing that she doesn’t remember much about her life: not the house where she was born, not why her birth was registered only 17 years later, not what homeschool program she availed herself of until high school.

Senator Risa Hontiveros, who presided over the May 7 hearing on the Philippine offshore gaming operations (POGO) raided in Bamban, could not help but wonder: Is this woman, who “came out of nowhere” to become mayor, in fact an “asset” planted by China to infiltrate Philippine politics and government?

During the hearing, Guo, 37, was questioned about her alleged involvement in the two illegal POGOs and the hub that accommodated them: Hongsheng Gaming Technology Incorporated and Zun Yuan Technology Incorporated, located in the Baofu Compound.

Hongsheng was raided by law enforcers in February 2023. Three months later, another POGO with a different set of incorporators, Zun Yuan, took its place in the same compound. That, too, was raided by an inter-agency government team in March 2024. Authorities link these POGOs to scam operations, trafficking, and even cyber attacks on government websites.

Guo admitted that, as a private citizen, she helped Hongsheng Gaming get the municipal council’s approval to operate in Bamban. At the time, she owned half of Baofu. She claimed that she sold it just before she ran for mayor.

That would be putting it too simply, as far as Senator Sherwin Gatchalian, whose committee is jointly probing the Tarlac POGOs with Hontiveros, is concerned. In an interview on ANC Headstart on Thursday, May 16, he said Guo’s business partner was a fugitive who escaped during the raid via tunnels in the 14 villas in the POGO complex.

Since she owned the land, she must have known about the existence of those tunnels. Why would there be tunnels in the first place? 

The Senate also suspects that Zun Yuan could be a fake company since its incorporators could not be located. 

Rappler used information from the Commission on Elections (Comelec) and the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), as well as details revealed during the Senate hearing – to piece together what we can about Guo’s background.

Personal life

Guo was born on July 12*, 1986, but her birth was registered only 17 years later. She grew up on a farm, raising hogs with her father, Jian Zhong Guo, who adopted the Filipino name Angelito. There is no information on the identity of her mother so far. (*Editor’s Note: An earlier version of this story said Guo was born on July 7. This has been corrected.)

Guo claimed to have been homeschooled until high school, but couldn’t name the program or school affiliation of her teacher, whose name also escaped her. She has no school records, and didn’t attend college.

GUO’S RESIDENCE? Locals show Rappler this gated residence of Mayor Alice Guo in Barangay Virgen delos Remedios, Bamban, Tarlac, in May 2024. Joann Manabat/Rappler

Guo, who is single, claims in her certificate of candidacy to have lived in the Philippines all her life. At the time of her electoral run, when she was 35 years old, she said she had been a resident of Bamban, specifically of Barangay Virgen delos Remedios, for 18 years and 2 months. 

This means she was not in Bamban, or at least in her current residence, in the 17 years that her birth was not registered.

Hontiveros has pointed out the known practice of Chinese nationals, who want to obtain Philippine passports, of pretending that they are Philippine-born individuals registering their births belatedly.

In the registration records of her many companies, Guo listed two other residences: one in Marilao, Bulacan, and another in Valenzuela City, Metro Manila. 

During the Senate hearing, Guo said she did not grow up with her Filipino mother. Netizens who tried to search for her mother found a post on the Bamban local government’s website, where the mayor greeted “my Mommy Patty and cheerleader 24/7” on her birthday.

Observers noted, however, that the woman referred to as “Mommy” could be a friend from the municipal government. The post has since been deleted – if online sleuths are to be believed – on May 8, or a day after senators raised questions about Guo’s identity.

GUO’S MOM? The mayor posted a birthday greeting for her ‘Mommy Patty and cheerleader’ on the official website of the Bamban local government on an unknown date. The post has since been deleted, but still appears on Google search.
Electoral campaign

According to Comelec spokesperson John Rex Laudiangco, Guo registered as a voter only in 2018. At that time, she would have been 31 or 32 years old already. Filipinos are eligible for voter registration when they turn 18.

Guo ran for mayor in the 2022 election, her first foray into politics. An independent candidate, she won a seven-cornered fight. Garnering 16,503 votes, she defeated her closest rival, barangay chief Joey Salting, by only 468 votes. 

She managed the feat spending only P134,000 for her campaign, as declared in her Statement of Contributions and Expenditures (SOCE). The expenses went to gas, food, bottled water, printing and distribution of tarpaulins, and counsel fees. 

Her total campaign expenses was only P1,024 short of P135,024, the maximum permitted by law for Bamban’s voter population of 45,008 at the time, based on the allowable amount of P3 per voter which election practitioners have long dismissed as unrealistic.

During the Senate hearing, Guo said the previous Duterte administration and her hog-raiser friends helped her in her mayoral campaign. It was former president Rodrigo Duterte’s administration too that allowed the entry of POGOs – and, with them, an influx of Chinese workers, both legal and illegal – into the Philippines.

At least two sources sent Rappler a photo of a Chinese-language newspaper clipping, which has since made the rounds of social media, showing ad placements congratulating Guo for winning the mayoral race.

‘FAMILY FAVORITE.’ A Chinese newspaper clipping also made rounds online congratulating Guo as the elected mayor. Sourced photo

Securities and Exchange Commission records showed that before Guo entered politics, she had been a businesswoman for some time. She has been an incorporator and a major shareholder of at least 11 companies since 2010.

Below are Guo’s companies and their registration dates with the SEC:

  • QJJ Embroidery Center – August 27, 2010
  • QJJ Group of Companies – July 23, 2012
  • QJJ Meat Shops Incorporated – July 23, 2012
  • QJJ Smelting Plant Incorporated – July 23, 2012
  • QJJ Slaughter House Incorporated – July 24, 2012
  • The Siopao Bulilits Foods Incorporated – December 2, 2014
  • QSeed Genetics Incorporated – December 3, 2014
  • 3Lin-Q Farm Incorporated – December 9, 2015
  • Westcars Incorporated – March 16, 2016
  • Con-Horq Summer Real Estate Group Incorporated – April 12, 2018
  • RK-Q Land Development Incorporated – August 31, 2018

This means she established her first business at the age of 24.

Luxury car and a helicopter

Guo’s lifestyle was also placed under a spotlight after it was known that she owns a McLaren 620R, a limited edition luxury British car that reportedly cost the equivalent of P16.7 million when it was first released in late 2019.

The Tarlac provincial information office confirmed Guo’s ownership of a McLaren when it posted about her car winning an award during the Auto Motor Show organized by the municipality of Concepcion, another town in Tarlac, on December 11, 2023.

SPORTS CAR. Alice Guo also owns a McLaren 620R and won the top award in the Auto Motor Show in Concepcion town last December 11.

McLaren said it manufactured only 225 samples of the 620R, and stopped the line in March 2021. It wasn’t clear when Guo acquired her luxury car. In August 2020, months after the initial release of McLaren 620Rs, motoring journalist Jacob Oliva wrote that one unit reached the Philippines via smuggling, citing a Bureau of Customs report.

During the Senate hearing, senators got Guo to admit that she had owned a helicopter, which was sold to a British company in 2024, and that, despite her claim that she no longer owned Baofu, her Ford Expedition was still found within the compound.

Possible suspension, disqualification

Senator Hontiveros has urged the Department of the Interior and Local Government to put Mayor Guo and other Bamban officials on preventive suspension while the investigation into their involvement in the POGO facility and its illegal activities is ongoing.

Comelec Chairman George Garcia said it was ministerial for the poll body to accept a person’s candidacy certificate, which they presume to contain truthful declarations. She can be held liable if proven to have committed perjury.

The poll chief said any citizen can file a quo warranto petition against Guo with any regional trial court to question her citizenship, and therefore unseat her. – Rappler.com

1 comment

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  1. ET

    May the truth come out. It is of great interest to national security that Chinese spies who are now acting as government officials be caught.

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Miriam Grace A. Go

Miriam Grace A Go’s areas of interest are local governance, campaigns and elections, and anything Japanese.