Philippine Mayor Accused of Acting as Chinese Asset Amid Investigation

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Allegations and Probe

A mayor in the Philippines is under scrutiny, accused of being a Chinese asset as tensions rise over territorial disputes between the two nations.

“No one knows her. We wonder where she came from. That’s why we are investigating this, together with the Bureau of Immigration, because of the questions about her citizenship,” President Ferdinand Marcos told reporters this week.

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Alice Guo’s Background

Alice Guo, the 35-year-old mayor of Bamban, is embroiled in a potential scandal concerning her origins and loyalties. She claimed she grew up on a pig farm and had not raised any concerns until a recent discovery in her town, according to the BBC.

Uncovering the Scam Center

Authorities found that an online casino called Philippine Offshore Gambling Operator (Pogo) in Bamban was actually a front for a “scam center,” employing nearly 700 workers — including over 200 Chinese nationals — who posed as “online lovers.”

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The March raid on the site rescued all the workers, who said they were coerced into working for the owners. The center was involved in a “pig butchering” scam, where scammers create fake identities to gain trust and manipulate victims into romantic relationships before defrauding them.

Guo’s Involvement

Guo was implicated in the scandal when it was revealed that she owned half the land where the Pogo was situated.

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Senate Testimony and Claims

The nation’s Senate summoned her to testify. She asserted that she sold the land before running for mayor two years ago, along with assets such as a helicopter and a Ford Expedition, both registered in her name but allegedly sold off before her campaign, the South China Morning Post reported.

Other inconsistencies raised questions about her legitimacy. She registered with the Commission on Elections to vote in Bamban only a year before her mayoral win.

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Citizenship and Background Issues

Guo also admitted she only registered her birth certificate at age 17 and provided few details about her background, stating she was born at home and homeschooled in a family compound where they raised pigs.

Senators’ Concerns

Senators accused Guo of giving “opaque” answers about her background, prompting one senator to question if she was a Chinese asset. She responded by asserting she was “not a coddler, not a protector of Pogos.”

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Territorial Disputes with China

China and the Philippines are in renewed territorial disputes as Beijing seeks to assert control over waters near the Philippines, leading to confrontations between Chinese Coast Guards and Filipino fishermen.

Last year saw near clashes between the two coast guards near the Second Thomas Shoal. Philippine authorities protested China’s use of water cannons and military-grade lasers.

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China claimed the Scarborough Shoal in 2012, prompting the Philippines to file a protest that led to a United Nations-backed tribunal ruling in 2016 against China’s claims on “historical grounds.” However, Beijing rejected the arbitration and its outcome.

Frequently Asked Questions

Who is Alice Guo?

Alice Guo is the 35-year-old mayor of Bamban, currently under investigation for allegedly acting as a Chinese asset.

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What is the “scam center” discovered in Bamban?

The scam center was an online casino front called Philippine Offshore Gambling Operator (Pogo), employing nearly 700 workers, including over 200 Chinese nationals, involved in a “pig butchering” scam.

Why is Alice Guo under investigation?

Guo is under investigation due to suspicions about her origins and citizenship, as well as her alleged involvement in the scam center operation in Bamban.

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What irregularities were found in Alice Guo’s background?

Irregularities include her late registration with the Commission on Elections, registering her birth certificate at age 17, and providing limited details about her past.

How did the Senate respond to Alice Guo’s testimony?

Senators accused Guo of giving vague answers and questioned if she was a Chinese asset, which she denied.

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What is the nature of the territorial disputes between China and the Philippines?

The disputes involve control over waters near the Philippines, with recent clashes between Chinese Coast Guards and Filipino fishermen, and ongoing issues over the Scarborough Shoal.

What actions have Philippine authorities taken regarding the territorial disputes?

Philippine authorities have protested China’s actions, including the use of water cannons and military-grade lasers, and brought the issue to an international tribunal.

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What was the outcome of the United Nations-backed tribunal ruling in 2016?

The tribunal ruled against China’s claims on historical grounds, but Beijing rejected the arbitration and its outcome.

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