Mayor Alice Guo's suspension appeal rejected by Ombudsman

Ian Laqui - Philstar.com
Mayor Alice Guo's suspension appeal rejected by Ombudsman
A photo of Mayor Alice Guo of Bamban, Tarlac posted on Feb. 24, 2024 on Facebook which was taken during the 2024 League of Municipality of the Philippines LMP General Assembly.
Facebook / Mayor Alice Leal Guo

MANILA, Philippines — The Office of the Ombudsman has denied the appeal of Bamban, Tarlac Mayor Alice Guo and two other local government officials to lift their preventive suspension.

The Ombudsman imposed preventive suspension on May 31 for Guo and others allegedly linked to the Philippine offshore gaming operator (POGO) in the area.

“It is well to stress that a preventive suspension is not a penalty but is merely a ‘preventive measure, a preliminary step in an administrative investigation; the purpose thereof is to prevent the accused from using his position and the powers and prerogative of his office to influence potential witnesses or to tamper with records which maybe vital in the prosecution of the case against him,’” the Ombudsman’s order read.

Aside from Guo, the other respondents include local officials Edwin Ocampo and Adenn Sigua.

The preventive suspension was ordered following the graft charges filed by the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) on May 24 against the mayor for issuing permits to Hongsheng Gaming Technology Inc.

According to the DILG's complaint, Guo and the officials allowed the issuance of a permit to Hongsheng despite it failing to meet the needed requirements.

The complaint also pointed out that the POGO’s license from the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. has expired. However, Guo did revoke their business permit.

On June 21, the Philippine National Police-Criminal Investigation and Detection Group and the Presidential Anti-Organized Crime Commission filed qualified trafficking charges before the Department of Justice (DOJ) against Guo and 13 others over their alleged involvement in the operation of a POGO hub in Bamban, Tarlac that was raided in March.

ILBO order implemented

The Bureau of Immigration (BI) on Tuesday morning said that it had implemented the DOJ's immigration lookout bulletin order (ILBO) against Guo and other local officials involved in the POGO fiasco.

According to the ILBO order, a precautionary hold departure order will also be filed against the individuals.

An ILBO is issued by the DOJ to instruct immigration officers to thoroughly verify if there are any outstanding arrest warrants, violations or infractions against certain individuals. 

It also serves to monitor their travel plans and locations should they attempt to depart the country.

The agency also said that they intercepted an individual included in the ILBO who attempted to leave the country.

Zhang Jie, 30, attempted to leave for Jinjiang, China at the Davao International Airport (DIA) on June 23.

This prompted the officers to conduct secondary inspections and verification with the DOJ.

Following confirmation of instructions from DOJ representatives on the Inter-Agency Council Against Trafficking, Zhang was prevented from boarding.

She was taken into custody and transferred to the BI warden's facility while awaiting the resolution of the deportation case to be filed against her.

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