Alice Guo wants suspension lifted, says Ombudsman acted on ‘speculations’


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Alice Guo wants suspension lifted,  says Ombudsman acted on ‘speculations’

HOT SEAT. Mayor Alice Guo answers questions from senators during the continuation of the public hearing on the raided Philippine Offshore Gaming Operator facility in Bamban, Tarlac, on May 22, 2024.

Angie de Silva/Rappler

Bamban Mayor Alice Guo's lawyers say the evidence against her 'does not rest on substantial evidence'

MANILA, Philippines – Embattled Bamban, Tarlac Mayor Alice Guo urged the Ombudsman to rescind her suspension order, asserting that none of her actions broke any laws.

Guo’s 31-page motion for reconsideration filed on Wednesday, June 5, challenged the Ombudsman’s May 31 order suspending her for six months due to lack of “strong evidence of guilt.”

Alice Guo wants suspension lifted,  says Ombudsman acted on ‘speculations’

“The evidence against respondent Guo does not rest on substantial evidence considering that the allegations in the complaint have no basis either in fact and in law (but) are based on mere surmises, speculations, opinions,” the motion read.

Guo is accused of gross misconduct, gross neglect of duty, and conduct prejudicial to the best interest of the service by the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) amid human trafficking allegations through illegal Philippine offshore gaming operators (POGOs).

The Ombudsman also suspended Edwin Ocampo, Bamban’s business permit and licensing officer, and Adenn Sigua, the town’s municipal legal officer.

According to the Ombudsman, they found sufficient grounds to suspend the three because there was strong evidence of guilt. The office added that the complaints against the three “may warrant their removal from the service,” and “their continued stay in office may prejudice the investigation of the case filed against them.”

Preventive suspension is a standard practice in investigations involving public officials to ensure the fairness of the probe, and to avoid the possibility of officials influencing the investigation through their position.

The DILG earlier said their complaint against the Bamban mayor falls under the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act or Republic Act 3019.

But the graft complaint was not mentioned in the Ombudsman’s order that ordered Guo’s suspension. 

Guo is accused of greenlighting the business permits of Zun Yuan Technology Incorporated, a POGO accused of human trafficking. Guo, however, noted that the issuance of such permits in itself was not irregular or unlawful.

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“From the foregoing, evidence from such complaints can hardly be considered strong as contemplated under the rules, so as to warrant the imposition of preventive suspension, let alone for the maximum period of six months,” the motion read.

Guo is tied to the Bamban POGO, as documents showed that she was among those who created Baofu Land Incorporated in May 2019, the company that owns the compound where Zun Yuan operates. Guo insists that she has divested from the company. – Rappler.com

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