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HomeNewsPhilippines"POGO Mayor" story grips attention of the Philippine public

“POGO Mayor” story grips attention of the Philippine public

Alice Guo, the mayor of Bamban in Tarlac, Philippines, is currently gripping the headlines in the country due to her alleged involvement in illegal activities.

Philippine Offshore Gaming Operators, better known as POGOs, usually shun the limelight, but one individual has catapulted the term into the local headlines recently. The story started with a raid on a POGO compound in Tarlac, in the wake of which Guo’s name first hit the news.

The 37-year old was even the subject of a Senate hearing during which she was questioned about her alleged involvement in the two illegal POGOs and the infrastructure supporting them: Hongsheng Gaming Technology Incorporated and Zun Yuan Technology Incorporated.

Since then, her background and seeming inability to recount certain aspects of her life have raised eyebrows among investigators and the public alike. Alice Guo emerged on the political scene somewhat unexpectedly, winning the mayoral seat in Bamban during the 2022 elections. Her sudden rise and lack of public familiarity raised initial suspicions in the rural area north of Manila.

Guo, the first female mayor of Bamban, won with 16,503 votes, but questions about her background quickly surfaced. Her father’s nationality, listed as Filipino on her birth certificate but Chinese in business documents, and her late registration of birth only added to the intrigue.

Guo claimed she was home schooled and had no formal school records, further deepening the mystery surrounding her origins and giving rise to suspicions she may have questionable ties to China. She even inspired various memes through her claims of not being able to recall many basic details of her childhood.

The controversy escalated when documents revealed Guo’s alleged involvement in POGO operations, which are under heavy scrutiny after various cases of criminal activities linked to the operations, including human trafficking and online scams.

The Baofu Corporation compound in Bamban, housing Hong Sheng Gaming Technology and later Zun Yuan Technology, was raided in February 2023 and March 2024. Evidence found included business permits linked to Guo and significant financial records suggesting her involvement. One notable discovery was a vehicle registered in her name and substantial electricity bills tied to the POGO operations​. The compound is also only around 300 meters away from the municipal building where Guo has her office.

POGO, Mayor Alice Guo story grips attention of the Philippine public

Philippine Senator Risa Hontiveros has been a vocal critic of POGOs in general, now honing in on Guo. The politician questioned Guo’s true nationality, even raising concerns about her potentially being a Chinese asset.

During Senate hearings, Hontiveros pointed out Guo’s inconsistent responses and lack of credible records to verify her claims. The senator suggested that Guo might be part of a broader scheme involving identity fraud and espionage, aiming to gain political influence and conduct surveillance activities through the POGO hubs. This angle of investigation has now intensified, with national intelligence agencies investigating the possibility of Guo’s connections to organized crime and spying.  

In light of these allegations, Senators Hontiveros and Sherwin Gatchalian have called for Guo’s preventive suspension to prevent any interference in the ongoing investigations. The Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) is also looking into administrative charges against Guo and other local officials implicated in the illegal activities. The controversy surrounding Guo also underscores the broader issues of corruption and foreign influence in Philippine politics.

Despite the mounting evidence and political pressure, Alice Guo has denied all allegations. She maintains that she has no involvement in the POGO operations and claims her connections with Chinese nationals are purely business-related through her hog-raising enterprise. Guo has expressed her willingness to cooperate with investigations and clear her name, insisting that the accusations are baseless and unjust​.

Alice Guo’s situation reflects the complex interplay of local politics, international relations, and law enforcement in the Philippines in regards to online gaming and business dealings. Her case has not only highlighted the issues within the POGO industry but is also raising critical questions about national security and the integrity of political figures. ¤

Frank Schuengel
Frank Schuengel
Frank Schuengel is an online gambling industry veteran with over twenty years of experience in Europe and Asia. Equally at home in the Isle of Man and the Philippines, he started his career as a sports trader before setting up and running whole operations, and more recently focusing on the regulatory and licensing side of things in the worlds of fiat and crypto eGaming. When he is not writing about gambling topics, he can be found cycling around Manila and advocating sustainable transport solutions for a Philippines based mobility magazine.

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