Guo may face human trafficking charges – PAOCC

Mark Ernest Villeza - The Philippine Star
Guo may face human trafficking charges � PAOCC
In this Facebook post on Dec. 22, 2022 shows Mayor Alice Guo of Bamban, Tarlac.
Facebook / Mayor Alice Leal Guo

MANILA, Philippines — The Presidential Anti-Organized Crime Commission (PAOCC) has gathered enough evidence to file human trafficking charges against Bamban Mayor Alice Guo over alleged illegal activities at a raided Philippine offshore gaming operator hub in her Tarlac town.

According to PAOCC spokesman Winston Casio, recent documents obtained by the agency could implicate Guo, despite her name not appearing in any documents of Zun Yuan Technologies.

“We have gotten some documents over the past few weeks that we have not yet disclosed in the previous two Senate hearings as well as executive sessions requested by Senators Sherwin Gatchalian and Risa Hontiveros,” Casio said in an interview over ANC on Monday.

He added that upon their appreciation of the evidence that they were able to obtain, “for sure, by this week, we will be able to file human trafficking charges against Mayor Guo and her co-conspirators.”

Casio also mentioned that the PAOCC is considering additional charges related to money laundering and other offenses.

He confirmed last June 15 that the evidence includes documents directly linking Guo to the POGO hub, which was raided in March following reports of human trafficking and other illegal activities.

Officials from the PAOCC and other government agencies will meet Tuesday to finalize the charges, which Casio stated are serious and non-bailable offenses.

The Office of the Ombudsman has suspended Guo and two local government officials for six months while investigating their involvement in the illegal activities at the POGO hub.

Sounds alarm

Senator Hontiveros yesterday sounded the alarm over a reported link of a former government official convicted and sentenced to a 26-year jail term for his involvement in the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) scam – considered the largest corruption scandal the country has ever seen – to POGO operations.

Hontiveros vowed to summon at the next hearing convicted former Technology and Resource Center deputy director general Dennis Cunanan, whose name cropped up following the raids on POGOs in Bamban town in Tarlac and Porac town in Pampanga.

“We will invite Mr. Cunanan to the next hearing to clarify his involvement. When there is POGO, there is a connection to a scam. As I said, all POGOs are bad. There is no differentiation between bad POGO or good POGO. It seems that POGOs are deliberately tapping former and present officials they can easily corrupt,” the senator added.

Hontiveros, who leads the inquiry into the participation of Guo in POGO scam operations, stressed that influencing public officials is part of POGOs’ strategy to continue their criminal activities in the country.

She revealed documents that show Cunanan acting as an “authorized representative” for Hongsheng in Bamban as well as Lucky South 99 in Porac. She added that Cunanan was sentenced to 26 years for the PDAF scam.

“Cunanan figured in one of the largest corruption scandals our country has ever seen. Maybe he also applied what he did in PDAF to POGOs. It also shows that Bamban and Porac POGO are really connected. It seems the scammers are together,” Hontiveros said.

She added that POGO operators might be taking advantage of the country’s weakness – corruption – and paid off some officials. She urged fellow government servants to work together to address corruption and ban POGOs.


Interior Secretary Benhur Abalos also warned local government executives on their liability in the proliferation of POGO and other illegal activities in their respective areas.

The liability of local government officials “does not only involve POGO but all illegal businesses,” Abalos said over dzBB when asked if elected officials will be held accountable over illegal POGO operations.

He noted that he led a raid on an illegal POGO in Angeles City, Pampanga two years ago. “I personally led the raid in Angeles City, involving Lucky 99, that’s why I was surprised that it was allowed to operate in Porac when I already raided this company.”

Abalos said local government units could ask for police assistance to check on suspicious activities of a business establishment in their jurisdiction, adding that Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. Chairman Alejandro Tengco earlier said only 43 POGOs have licenses to operate in the country.

“From 200 to 400 (licensed POGOs)… based on my conversation with chairman (Tengco), only 43 are legal and he said every week, these are being regularly checked. So you could just imagine those who were not given permits, these are still in the Philippines and it is possible that they are involved in illegal activities, so all the LGUs and the PNP should be aware and immediately act on this,” he added.

Senator Gatchalian took the same stance, saying governors, mayors and other local officials should be held accountable for failing to monitor illegal POGO activities in their respective areas.

He commended the Pampanga provincial government for investigating the POGO hubs in Porac town and Angeles City.

Pampanga Vice Gov. Lilia Pineda vowed to finish the investigation into the POGO in Porac, saying these operators had no respect for the government.

“It (Lucky South 99) has no building permit, no electrical permit, nothing at all, zero. It has no environmental compliance certificate. They entered the town, disregarding everything. They have no respect for the government,” Pineda said over Teleradyo Serbisyo.

Casio of PAOCC revealed in an interview over ANC that at least four POGO hubs, including the one in Porac, raided by PAOCC have licenses but were also seen to be doing illegal activities.

He said the POGO hub in Porac lost its license in October 2023, but continued illegal operations, including torture, which led to a raid on June 4.

Undersecretary Gilbert Cruz also revealed in an interview over Storycon on OneNews PH that PAOCC is investigating the presence of a former executive assistant to Harry Roque, spokesman for the past Duterte administration.

Cruz said the former assistant resided in the POGO complex in Porac while studying in nearby Clark. He noted that this is unusual since a POGO complex typically accommodates only employees and not students.

Of the 43 remaining licensed POGOs in the country, the largest is the former Island Cove Resort in Cavite, Casio said as he revealed that they are also monitoring the operations of this hub.

He confirmed that PAOCC monitors both legal and illegal POGOs, although the agency has not physically entered Island Cove.

Casio acknowledged the challenge posed by the continued operation of more than 300 illegal scam farms across the country, stating that it is “a very big problem that demands a whole government and eventually a whole-of-nation approach.” — Bella Cariaso, Cecille Suerte Felipe, Evelyn Macairan

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