Alice Guo

Alice Guo as state witness? Only if she identifies someone ‘higher’ – PAOCC

Lance Spencer Yu

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

Alice Guo as state witness? Only if she identifies someone ‘higher’ – PAOCC

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

Angie de Silva/Rappler

'If she appears to be the least guilty, and she will be able to point at other principals higher than her, why not?' Presidential Anti-Organized Crime Commission spokesperson Winston Casio says

MANILA, Philippines – The Presidential Anti-Organized Crime Commission (PAOCC) is not currently open to making embattled Bamban Mayor Alice Guo a state witness unless she can point to someone “higher on the food chain.”

“We wouldn’t be open to that discussion unless we get higher on the food chain in relation to the crime that this group has committed,” PAOCC spokesperson Winston Casio said at the Saturday News Forum on July 6.

The suspended mayor is currently at the center of an investigation for her alleged ties with an illegal POGO in her town of Bamban, Tarlac. There is also mounting evidence that Guo is actually a Chinese national using a “stolen identity” to pass as a Filipino citizen.

Given this, Casio said that Guo does not appear to be the least guilty person involved in the crime. In fact, Casio confirmed that Guo is the highest “so far sa mga identified natin, hawak natin (among the ones we have identified and captured).”

This would disqualify her from being a state witness, as one of the requirements is that the accused must not appear to be the most guilty.

“Any state witness for that matter will have to be the least guilty in the entire conspiratorial chain in the commission of a crime. The way that we’re appreciating the evidence on hand, what we have now, she’s not the least guilty,” the PAOCC spokesperson said on Saturday.

However, Casio acknowledged that this could change if future evidence indicates otherwise.

“If she appears to be the least guilty and she will be able to point at other principals higher than her, then why not?” he said.

Senator Sherwin Gatchalian also does not support making Guo a state witness for the current investigation into POGOs given that “she is not the least guilty.”

“She is at the center of the Hong Sheng POGO hub by applying for the Letter of No Objection and other LGU (local government unit) permits,” Gatchalian said, according to a report by the Philippine Daily Inquirer on Friday, July 5.

Gatchalian instead urged her to reveal more information to authorities to “reduce her culpability.”

Guo currently faces a non-bailable qualified trafficking complaint at the Department of Justice. The Office of the Solicitor General has also filed a petition seeking to cancel her birth certificate.

Gradual POGO phaseout?

During the media forum, Casio suggested a “gradual phaseout” of POGOs as opposed to a sudden total ban, as pushed by some lawmakers and groups.

“So, siguro (maybe) before we direct ourselves to a discussion on total ban, we could probably revisit discussions of phaseout,” Casio said. “A  gradual phasing out maybe, a transitional mechanism that would lead to the total eradication of these scam farms.”

He said that at present, only 42 POGOs are legally operating in the Philippines, and that 41 of them are in Metro Manila and one in Cavite.

“So kung mayroon ka sa Northern Luzon, Central Luzon, Calabarzon, Bicol all the way to Mindanao and Central Visayas, ibig sabihin lahat iyon ilegal,” Casio said.

(So it there are POGOs in Northern Luzon, Central Luzon, Calabarzon, Bicol all the way to Mindanao and Central Visayas, that means all of them are illegal.) – Rappler.com

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Lance Spencer Yu

Lance Spencer Yu is a multimedia reporter who covers the transportation, tourism, infrastructure, finance, agriculture, and corporate sectors, as well as macroeconomic issues.