PBBM: Photos with Guo prove nothing

By Filane Mikee Cervantes and Darryl John Esguerra

May 19, 2024, 9:30 am Updated on May 19, 2024, 10:49 am

<p>Bamban, Tarlac Mayor Alice Guo <em>(Mayor Alice Leal Guo Facebook)</em></p>

Bamban, Tarlac Mayor Alice Guo (Mayor Alice Leal Guo Facebook)

MANILA – President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. on Saturday said photos of himself with Bamban, Tarlac Mayor Alice Guo prove nothing.

On the sidelines of the signing of alliance between the Partido Federal ng Pilipinas (PFP) and Nationalist People’s Coalition (NPC) in Makati City, Marcos said he never declines anyone's request for selfies.

Guo posted photos of her and Marcos together on social media after the President backed the probe on the local executive's dubious identity since "no one knows her".

“That proves nothing,” Marcos told reporters.

“You know how many pictures I take during the campaign? Siguro isang libo sa isang araw. Lahat naman ng humihingi ng selfie hindi ko hinihindian (Maybe, about a thousand per day. I do not say no to anyone who asks for a selfie),” he added.

Marcos said the executive branch's own probe on Guo's identity and possible involvement in the two illegal Philippine offshore gaming operations that were recently raided in her city has just started.

The Senate is conducting its investigation on Guo over allegations that she may be a Chinese asset.

“There’s also an ongoing investigation by the Senate. So let’s allow the executive side and the legislative side to do the work and continue our investigation. Wala pang definitive na (So far there are no definitive) conclusions yet,” Marcos said.

The Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) has created a special team to look into Guo's citizenship and determine if she is "unlawfully holding or exercising a public office."

Solicitor General Menardo Guevarra said "if it could be established by proof, the OSG will commence quo warranto proceedings to oust the person concerned."

The mayor, who won on her first attempt at running for the position, remained evasive when questioned about her background before joining local politics, raising even more suspicion about her citizenship.

Based on records from the Commission on Elections (Comelec), Guo declared that she is a Filipino citizen in her certificate of candidacy, and no one challenged her qualifications, allowing her to run and eventually win as mayor of Bamban, Tarlac in 2022.

Preventive suspension

The Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) on Saturday said the department has recommended to the Office of the Ombudsman that Guo be placed on preventive suspension to prevent her from influencing the continuing investigations.

Abalos said the DILG on April 5 created a seven-man task force headed by Atty. Benjamin Zabala of the Internal Audit Service to investigate the allegations concerning Guo’s link to illegal POGO operations in her town.

"The task force’s updated report has been submitted May 17, 2024, to the Office of the Ombudsman for their appropriate action. Based on the report, there are troubling findings of serious illegal acts which may have severe legal implications," Abalos said in a statement.

He did not give further details. Aside from this, Abalos said the DILG does not have the power to directly suspend or dismiss local officials.

"Hence, the DILG defers to the Ombudsman regarding any sanctions that may be imposed against Guo, in line with its disciplinary authority over elective officials of local governments under Section 21 of Republic Act No. 6770," Abalos said.

He added that the DILG will continue to cooperate with the Ombudsman and other investigative bodies on this matter. (with a report from Lloyd Caliwan/PNA)