With the ongoing South China Sea conflict between the Philippines and China came forth many revelations arising from legislative hearings in aid of legislation, diplomatic protests by the Philippines against China’s harassment and unlawful occupation of shoals belonging to the Philippines, and opposing media pronouncements from both sides. These include the so-called “gentleman’s agreement” between former Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte and Chinese President Xi JinPing (that there would be status quo in South China Sea), the shocking number of “volunteer” Chinese nationals posted in the Philippine Coast Guard since three years ago: 30 plus the military installations and reclamations by China in areas lawfully within the Philippines’ Exclusive Economic Zone and repeated harassments and dangerous maneuvers of Chinese militia, coast guards and naval vessels against the Philippines’ fisherfolk, coast guards, and local citizens wanting to deliver goods and basic needs of a handful of military personnel manning the grounded BRP Sierra Madre in Ayungin Shoal.

Amid all these problems facing the administration of President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos, Jr., arose a new challenge resulting from the escape of two foreigners -- a Vietnamese and a Malaysian -- from a POGO (Online Gaming) hub located in a small town in the province of Tarlac (several miles north of Manila). The escapees went to authorities to complain about the illegal activities happening inside the compound where they “worked.” They also claimed that torture is being committed against them if and when they can’t reach their “quotas” of sums supposed to be scammed from unknowing victims via the Internet. Law enforcers raided the huge, modern little city of beautiful villas and office buildings just behind the municipal building of Bamban, Tarlac, where the 2022 elected Mayor, Alice Leal-Guo holds office. The raid revealed not only huge amounts of money in vaults, illegal online gaming operations, human trafficking, and torture, but also the presence of tunnels, panic rooms and bunkers underneath some villas and buildings. The supposed leader of the business community, a Chinese national, escaped the authorities through one of the tunnels in a villa.

This case immediately caught the attention of the national government, sparking the creation of investigative bodies to find out the role of Mayor Alice Guo in the alleged illegal activities happening inside her little town. The Senate of the Philippines, Committee on Women ……chaired by Sen. Risa Hontiveros, conducted a public hearing which revealed a lot about a young elected mayor who claims no knowledge about the illegal activities behind her office, and more importantly, who stresses repeatedly that she is a Filipino. Mayor Alice Leal Guo, a pretty 38 year-old half-Chinese, insisted that she’s a Filipino by virtue of her birth certificate that states her father is “Angelito Guo” and her mother is “Amelia Leal,” a Filipino. The problems: she was late-registered by her so-called father when she was 19 her father listed himself as “Filipino” but Alice says her father is Chinese her birth certificate says her parents were married, but Alice says her dad told her they were not married. Several resource persons invited in the Senate hearing revealed the following: No marriage record between an Angelito Guo and Amelia Leal No birth certificates for either of them as well, raising the question whether these two people even existed! Mayor Alice also said repeatedly that she grew up alone in the farm raising hogs, that she was home-schooled elementary through high school by a lone tutor no college degree, and that she never saw her mother, who she later claimed was her dad’s “kasambahay” (house help). Upon further investigatIon, though, the Senate found out that there are two other siblings from the same mother “Amelia Leal” also late-registered, but with different marriage dates. This posed another red flag for the Senate panel who now seems convinced that Alice Guo was not born in the Philippines, that “Amelia Leal” was a creation of Alice’s “father”, and that Alice Guo has been lying all along.

Alice Guo claims she is just a simple woman serving her town as mayor. But the Senators disputed this because she is a very wealthy woman with hundreds of thousands of money listed in her Assets and Liabilities, owns a helicopter and a number of high-end vehicles, and previously owns the big chunk of land now occupied by Chinese “investors” with various businesses. When asked how she got tons of funds when her hog business doesn’t seem able to give her welath, Alice Guo said her father gives her money, “Sometimes Five hundred thousand, sometimes a Million, sometimes two…” What a simple life indeed!