Alice Guo

Senate ready to order arrest of Alice Guo if she skips hearing anew

Bonz Magsambol

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Senate ready to order arrest of Alice Guo if she skips hearing anew

HEARING. Mayor Alice Leal Guo attends the Senate public hearing on the raided Philippine Offshore Gaming Operators in Bamban, Tarlac, on May 22, 2024

Angie de Silva/Rappler

Senate President 'Chiz' Escudero says he will sign the arrest order in case Senator Risa Hontiveros requests for it

MANILA, Philippines – The Senate is ready to order the arrest of embattled Mayor Alice Guo of Bamban, Tarlac in case she snubs the hearing again, Senate President Francis “Chiz” Escudero said on Tuesday, July 9.

“Kung hindi sila dadalo, nasa kamay ni Senator Risa [Hontiveros] kung siya ay magre-request na mag-issue ng warrant of arrest para sila ay puwersahang padaluhin sa pagdinig ng Senado at pipirmahan ko ang warrant of arrest na ‘yon,” Escudero told reporters in a chance interview.

(If she will skip the hearing, it’s up to Senator Risa if she will request a warrant of arrest so they would be forced to attend the Senate inquiry, and I will sign that warrant of arrest.)

The Senate committee on women, children, family relations and gender equality led by Senator Risa Hontiveros is set to resume its hearing on illegal activities of Philippine Offshore Gaming Operators (POGOs) on Wednesday, July 10. Guo and her alleged involvement in illegal POGO operations in Tarlac have been the subject of Senate hearings since May.

The Bamban mayor skipped the hearing on June 26, prompting Hontiveros to issue a subpoena for her to attend.

In an interview with News5, Guo’s lawyer, Stephen David, said that Guo is not keen on attending Wednesday’s hearing because she was “traumatized” by the embarrassment she got from past inquiries.

“Kausap ko siya kahapon ng umaga. Ako, as much as possible, hinihikayat ko siya. Ang problema kasi masyado siyang traumatized sa pagpapahiya sa kanya. Physically and emotionally draining sa kanya lalo na ‘yung mga bashers ‘nya,” David said.

(I spoke to her yesterday morning. As much as possible, I’m encouraging her to attend. The problem really is she is traumatized by the embarrassment. It’s physically and emotionally draining for her, especially by what bashers say about her.)

David said that Guo is still in the country. “Magkausap kami sa phone, she assured me na nasa Pilipinas siya. Ako naniniwala ako na nasa Pilipinas lang siya,” he said. (I spoke with her via phone call and she assured me that she’s still in the Philippines. I believe she’s still here.)

In a statement on Tuesday, Hontiveros said that Guo and her lawyers should respect the laws of the country.

“Our jurisprudence is clear and consistent. The Supreme Court has recognized that the invocation of the right against self-incrimination can only be done when a question is being asked,” she said.

“Kung tunay na gusto niyang malinis ang pangalan niya, magpakita siya sa hearing, sumagot siya nang maayos, at tigilan niya na ang pagsisinungalin,” she added.

(If it’s true that she wants to clean her name, she should show up in our hearing, answer questions properly, and she should stop lying.)

Hontiveros was reacting to the statement from Guo’s camp that they do not expect a “fair” hearing at the Senate, and that it’s only in court where they “expect a fair trial.”

According to an ABS-CBN News report, Guo will again skip the scheduled Senate hearing on Wednesday.

On June 27, the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) confirmed that the fingerprints of the suspended mayor and Guo Hua Ping – the Chinese woman who is suspected to be the real identity of the local official – match.

Hontiveros said that the NBI finding was the “strongest evidence” to strip Guo of her elective post. She also urged the Office of the Solicitor General “to expedite its filing of a quo warranto case against” Guo.

The Bamban mayor is under preventive suspension ordered by the Ombudsman. The suspension was due to a graft case filed by the Department of the Interior and Local Government over serious illegal acts and her link to illegal activities of POGOs. –

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Bonz Magsambol

Bonz Magsambol covers the Philippine Senate for Rappler.