Philippine Mayor Questioned Over Allegations She is A Chinese Spy

On May 22nd, Alice Guo, the mayor of Bamban, appeared in front of a Philippine Senate panel for the Philippine Offshore Gaming Operator (POGO) that operated in the town. Guo’s appearance is the second time she has appeared in front of the Senate panel to answer questions regarding her connection to the POGO or if she is a Chinese spy. However, Guo’s dodging and inconsistency in answering questions regarding her past and family emerged as the more significant issue. Guo’s lack of consistency led to several Philippine politicians, including the president, Ferdinand Marcos, calling for an investigation into her background. Furthermore, it also led the Department of the Interior and Local Government to suspend Guo’s authority over local law enforcement units in the area due to a report that contained “troubling findings.”

Post of Mayor Alice Guo from July 27. 2022 (Photo: Mayor Alice Leal Guo Facebook)

Alice Leal Guo

Alice Leal Guo is a 37-year-old individual who was elected mayor of Bamban, a town located in Tarlac province, in May 2022. However, other aspects of her past, such as her parents, siblings, etc., were not publicly known until the hearings. She only publicly revealed details in response to questions asked by Philippine Senators Risa Hontiveros and Sherwin Gatchalian during the 22nd hearing, as well as interviews with various news outlets. What she disclosed during those testimonies provided at least some information regarding her childhood, which only increased scrutiny of her background.

For example, Guo changed her response several times when asked to explain or provide details about the nature of the parent’s relationship. During the first hearing on May 7th, Guo said she was uncertain if her parents were married. However, she said during a May 20th interview that she was the ‘love child’ of a Chinese man named Jian Zhong Guo and a Philippine maid named Amelia Leal, who worked for Jian’s wife. Jian adopted the Filipino name “Angelito” and also goes by Angelito Guo. When asked by a reporter about why she changed her answer, Guo said that she blanked out during the hearing. She also said that her father hid her true identity and kept her on their pig farm until she was 12 or 14 years old. During the interview, Guo said that she learned the truth about her mother’s identity during her early childhood years. Furthermore, she also admitted that it is “too embarrassing” to say her mother was a maid and considered the issue “a private matter.”

Now deleted post from Bamban Municipality showing Guo and her alleged mother (Photo: Screenshot/Bamban Municipality website)

A post on the Bamban’s Municipality website shows Guo wishing someone she calls “mommy” a happy birthday and thanking her for the “smiles and uncontrollable laugher, the love, and kindness.” Furthermore, the announcement also said, “Happy Birthday, Mother of Mayor Alice Leal Guo” in the caption. However, the post’s creator likely used the image from a deleted post on Guo’s Facebook page. The page showed Guo and several other individuals, including her “mommy,” at a Comprehensive Land Use Plan Visioning Workshop in March 2023. Guo has at least two pictures of her and her “mother,” but he calls the woman “Mommy Patty.”

Facebook post Guo made showing her mother (Photo: Mayor Alicia Leal Guo Facebook)

A post on the Bamban’s Municipality website shows Guo wishing someone she calls “mommy” a happy birthday and thanking her for the “smiles and uncontrollable laugher, the love, and kindness.” Furthermore, the announcement also said, “Happy Birthday, Mother of Mayor Alice Leal Guo” in the caption. However, the post’s creator likely used the image from a deleted post on Guo’s Facebook page. The page showed Guo and several other individuals, including her “mommy,” at a Comprehensive Land Use Plan Visioning Workshop in March 2023. Guo has at least two pictures of her and her “mother,” but he calls the woman “Mommy Patty.” A search on Facebook identifies the individual Guo called her mommy as a Bamban tourism officer, Patrizia Nuguid Santos. Her Facebook caption is “I’m anything PR & Media,” and she currently has an advertisement of Guo with the word support superimposed on it. One indicator that shows Guo and Santos’ relationship is a post from model and Binibining Kanlahi 2023 third runner-up Krizia Iya Santos’ Facebook page. In a March 2023 post, she thanked both Guo and Santos for inviting her and her group to the 7th Kanlahi Car and Motor Show held in Centro Mercato in Tarlac City.

March 2023 post showing Alicia Leal Guo and Patrizia Nuguid Santos invited Krizia Iya Santos and others to the 7th Kanlahi Car and Motor Show (Photo: Screenshot/Krizia Iya Santos Facebook page)

Guo’s birth certificate also caused significant concern due to the information it contained. Hontiveros said that the Philippines Statistics Authority (PSA) did not have any information that would show that her parents were married. Furthermore, Hontiveros said during the hearing that she could not find any information on file with the PSA regarding her parents’ birth certificates to verify their existence. She then questioned Guo about how her parents can be listed on three people’s birth certificates but do not have any marriage or birth certificates. The senator also said that there is a possibility that her parents do not exist due to the lack of information about them. Hontiveros also called her Philippine citizenship into question since her “birth certificate is riddled with holes;” it is likely that her citizenship is also “riddled with holes.” She pointed out that under the 1973 Constitution, a child can only receive Philippine citizenship if one of their parents are also Philippine citizens. She highlighted that Angelito’s citizenship was Filipino in all three birth certificates, but Guo admitted that her father was Chinese and held a Chinese passport.

Screenshot from May 22nd Senate hearing showing travel records from the Philippines’ Bureau of Immigration (Photo: X/@ABSCBNNews)

The mayor’s relationship with her siblings and whether she knew them was another issue that both senators touched on during the Senate hearing. However, Guo’s answers illustrated her inconsistencies regarding not only her parentage but her siblings. For example, Guo said during the May 7th hearing that she was the only child of her parents. Hontiveros pointed out that Angelito and Amelia are listed as the parents on the birth certificates of two other individuals named Sheila and Seimen Leal Guo. Guo said she did not know who the individuals were during the first hearing. The senator then pointed out that all three birth certificates had inconsistent dates regarding when Guo’s parents married. For example, both Guo’s and her sister’s recorded their date of marriage as October 14, 1962, while Seimen’s listed January 21, 1967. She then disputed Guo’s statements that she did not know her siblings in the May 22nd hearing by showing travel records that showed Guo traveled several times with her sister.

Birth certificates of Alice, Sheila, and Seimen Leal Guo displayed during May 22nd (Photo: Rappler, Senator Risa Hontiveros, Philippines Statistics Authority)

The mayor’s assets were also a major issue, and the senators questioned Guo about them during the May 22nd hearing. The most significant issue regarding her assets are the 16 vehicles registered in her name or the businesses she owns. The Philippines’ Land Transportation Office (LTO) listed 12 vehicles in her name, ranging from a GAC Motor GS8 to a Ford Expedition 3.5L to a Jeep Gladiator Sport and a Toyota Land Cruiser. Out of the 12 vehicles registered to Guo, six, including the Jeep Gladiator, are registered to an address in Virgen de Los Remedios, Bamban. The other six are registered to two addresses in Marilao, Bulacan. Guo confirmed that she owns the Marilao Bulacan address during the May 22nd hearing. The LTO report did not specify who Guo bought the vehicles from. However, the organization also listed a Toyota Camry 2.5L V HE registered to Jian Guo, whose residence is in Pasay City and is not one of the addresses associated with the mayor. While the report did not say who Jian Guo is, Guo’s father’s Chinese name is Jian Zhong Guo. Guo said that the vehicles registered under her name belonged to her car dealership business, Westcars Incorporated, which she founded in March 2016.

Facebook post from the Tarlac Standard that states Alice Guo registered the car in the Concepcion City Auto Car Show in December 2023 (Photo: Tarlac Standard Official Facebook Page)

However, her potential ownership of a limited-edition McLaren 620R was also a significant issue that senators asked about during the hearing. She claimed that she did not own the Mclaren but borrowed it from a friend for a December 2023 car show held in Concepcion, Tarlac province. However, Geo did not mention that she also registered the vehicle at the March 2023 Kanlahi Car and Motor Show. A post from an individual’s Facebook page said that the car was Guo’s, as well as listing Santos as one of the models in the picture.

Facebook post of Krizia Iya Santos (Center), Sophia Francine Barles (Right), and Wella Bayoneta (Left) modeling in front of McLaren allegedly owned by Alicia Guo at the 7th Kanlahi Car and Motor Show held in Centro Mercato in Tarlac City (Photo: Maria Elena Suarez Salas Facebook page)

However, her potential ownership of a limited-edition McLaren 620R was also a significant issue that senators asked about during the hearing. She claimed that she did not own the Mclaren but borrowed it from a friend for a December 2023 car show held in Concepcion, Tarlac province. She said she borrowed the vehicle for the car show because she thought her constituents would be happy to see a luxury vehicle in their town. Guo did not mention that she also registered the vehicle at the March 2023 Kanlahi Car and Motor Show. A post from an individual’s Facebook page said that the car was Guo’s, as well as listing Santos as one of the models in the picture. Guo also bought a helicopter in 2019 as part of a plan to create a motor taxi company because the sector was profitable at the time. However, she sold the helicopter to a British company this year since her business idea did not come to fruition.

POGOs and Compound

The senators also questioned Guo’s connections to two POGOs that operated in the town before they were shut down. Hontiveros highlighted the individuals that are also listed on Baofu Land Development Inc.’s financial documents. She said that in the 2019 Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) filings, Baofu’s listed incorporators were Guo, Lin Baoying, Huang Zhiyang, Rachel Joan Malonzo Carreon, and Zhang Ruijin . However, one of the issues with Zhang is that he was convicted, sentenced in April 2024 to 15 months in jail, and forfeited $87.4 million USD (S$118 million) after pleading guilty on forgery and money laundering charges. Hontiveros also noted that Zhang had $30.4 million USD (S$41 million) in overseas assets that included an unnamed Philippine real estate development company. Lin Baoying, one of the individuals listed as Baofu’s owners, also faced charges related to the same money laundering operation that Zhang was also part of. However, Lin pleaded guilty to forgery, money laundering, and other charges on May 21st and will be sentenced at a later date. Lin is identified as Zhang’s partner in various new outlets that reported on the trials.

The Baofu compound, where both Zun Yuan Technology Incorporated and Hongsheng Gaming Technology Incorporated are located, is located behind the Bamban town hall. Hontiveros asked Guo about her knowledge and connection with Zun Yuan Technology Incorporated, a POGO that the Philippine authorities raided in March 2024. During the raid, authorities located 408 individuals from various countries, such as China, Vietnam, Malaysia, and Rwanda, who were captives at the compound. The raid occurred after a judge issued warrants in response to a Vietnamese national who escaped the compound and filed a complaint with local authorities in February. A Malaysian national also escaped and sought Philippine authorities’ assistance, saying he was held against his will inside the compound.

The individual received medical assistance due to injuries sustained from torture and physical abuse during his captivity. Authorities said that seventeen of the foreigners were captured after a car pursuit along the M.A. Roxas Highway. Guo was also questioned about Zun Yuan’s representative, Nancy Gamo, on May 22nd. She denied knowing Gamo and said she did not have a relationship with her. However, Hontiveros said Guo was lying because Gamo is directly connected to all the companies that she is also associated with. She pointed out that her relationship with Guo was a major conflict of interest since she approved Zun Yuan’s business permits. Furthermore, authorities also found a statement from Tarlac II Electric Cooperative, Inc. in Guo’s name during the March 2024 raid.

Screenshot from May 22nd hearing showing September 2020 application Guo submitted to obtain Hongsheng’s business permit (Photo: Rappler, Philippine Senate)

Hontiveros also questioned Quo regarding her connections to another POGO, Hongsheng Gaming Technology Incorporated. The POGO previously operated in the same compound as Zun Yuan before it was raided in February 2023. Philippine law enforcement agencies raided the compound due to allegations that the company violated the 2012 Cybercrime Prevention Act by operating a cryptocurrency investment scam. They detained an ethnic Chinese Malaysian and found 850 employees at the compound. While most of the employees were Philippine citizens, about 350 were foreigners. Gatchalian said his office received a copy of a September 2020 resolution that showed Guo submitted the application for the company’s business permits. However, the senator also pointed out that Guo submitted the application when she was a private citizen.

Analysis

Guo’s answers during the Senate hearings indicate that she is hiding key aspects of her past to prevent Philippine authorities from ascertaining her true identity. Guo’s obstruction of her past likely indicates her heavy involvement in various criminal activities involving the POGOs and her not being a Philippine citizen. Firstly, she provided inconsistent information regarding her parents and siblings during the two hearings. Guo previously stated that she did not know whether her parents were married when she was born. Various pieces of evidence revealed during the May 22nd hearing, however, disproved her statements. The most glaring example is how Hontiveros said that the PSA had no information regarding a marriage or birth certificate for Guo’s parents. The lack of a marriage could be explained by her parents having a live-in relationship or not registering their marriage. However, the inconsistent dates found on Guo’s and her siblings’ birth certificates provide a counter to this argument since both parents would know when they got married. Furthermore, the lack of information regarding the birth certificate of Guo’s mother, Amelia Leal, also provides another point of contention since she may not exist. However, Amelia could have been born in a rural area of Tarlac, and her parents did not register her for some unknown reason.

Another point of contention is that Guo lied about not knowing her siblings when records indicated that she knew her siblings. The travel logs that were shown during the hearing showed that the mayor traveled with her sister multiple times. Furthermore, Guo admitted that she knew Seimen Guo was her brother, despite previously saying that she had no knowledge of them. While Guo later admitted that she did not disclose her true parentage or acknowledge that she knew her siblings, she said the reason she did not tell the truth was due to it being a private issue. Guo’s portrayal of a municipal employee as her mother in a post on the Bamban municipality website indicates that she wanted to show that she had parents. However, the use of an employee’s photo also indicates that Guo likely chose that photo out of convenience or believing that no one would notice or figure out the employee’s identity.

Guo’s assets also indicate that she is hiding her connections to the POGOs and likely transnational money laundering operations. While most of the vehicles Guo has in her name are not luxury vehicles, the Jeep and the Toyota Land Cruiser are considered relatively high-value cars in the Philippines. While some of the vehicles are considered cargo or farm vehicles, Guo said some of the cars were meant to be resold through her car dealership. However, the number of vehicles Guo has in her name points to something beyond having inventory for her car dealership. She has owned some of the vehicles since at least 2012 and 2013, which indicates that she bought them for personal use. Furthermore, Guo also did not transfer the vehicles to the Westcars Inc. company for resale after she initially procured them. Another issue is Guo’s association with and ownership of the Mclaren 620R car. While Guo’s explanation regarding why she registered the car under her name in the December 2023 car show is strange, it does not explain why she registered the McLaren under her name in the March 2023 car show. However, Guo registering the McLaren in the March car show indicates that her explanation is untrue and shows her lack of honesty regarding her association with the luxury car. If she is not the owner of the McLaren, then it would point to her associating with individuals who would have the money to buy the car, likely through nefarious means.

Guo’s inconsistency regarding her knowledge of the POGOs may point to her knowledge of various criminal operations that the POGOs conducted there. For example, Gamo is the legal representative for all the businesses that Guo had stakes in, including Baofu Land Development. Guo denied knowing or having a relationship with Gamo during the hearing. However, Gamo is listed as the legal representative for the businesses that Guo is associated with. The electric bill with Guo’s name on it is another piece of evidence that indicates that Guo has knowledge of the POGO’s criminal operations. Furthermore, Guo also submitted the application on Hongsheng Gaming’s behalf so it could receive its business permit in 2020. This points to a significant conflict of interest because Guo knew Gamo and was likely a business partner. However, Guo’s assets could be explained by her involvement with the POGO’s criminal operations through Baofu Land Development. It is also likely that Guo has some knowledge of the various cyber operations that allegedly originate from the POGOs.

Various politicians in Tarlac province or Luzon pointing out that they did not know Guo before she was elected mayor is a significant issue. This is significant because all politicians will have connections to one of the major political families that exist throughout the Philippines. However, Secretary of National Defense Gilberto Teodoro Jr. said he does not know Guo and that her background needs to be investigated. Teodoro’s commentary about Guo is significant since he previously served as a congressman for Tarlac province from 1998 to 2007. He would likely have some knowledge of who Guo is and what political family she is connected to since he represented the province for nine years. Marcos also made similar comments, saying that Philippine authorities need to investigate Guo’s background since “all of the politicians are from Tarlac” and “nobody knows her.”

Furthermore, Marcos also said he and other politicians “are puzzled as to where she came from.” In response to these comments, Guo published photos of her with Marcos and other prominent politicians. In February 2024, he inspected the access road linking New Clark City to the local airport. Furthermore, Guo’s Facebook page also contains a post that shows her posing with Marcos during his proclamation rally for president in March 2022. Beyond her meeting with Marcos in 2022, she did not actively partake in politics until she registered for Bamban’s mayoral race. While the investigations into Guo’s background continue, it is likely that her obstruction is to prevent people from determining that she is not a Philippine citizen.

Joaquin Camarena
Joaquin Camarena
Joaquin the panda began Sino Talk in 2022 primarily to give an objective, unbiased view on China related topics as well as other issues related to the Indo-Pacific region. He spent several years studying and traveling throughout China and many countries in the Indo-Pacific region. In another life, the panda was also a U.S. Marine intelligence analyst who enjoyed bamboo MREs and drinking bourbon and soju. Indo-Pacific Division Desk Chief for Atlas News.

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