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Opinion

EDITORIAL — Presuming regularity

The Philippine Star
EDITORIAL � Presuming regularity

She is fluent in Filipino and claims to have been born and bred in the Philippines, but can’t remember the house where she was born, why her birth was registered only 17 years later, what homeschooling program she supposedly had until high school or why she did not attend a regular school or finish college. She has no school records and can’t remember her teacher’s name. Her mother’s identity is unknown; she says she grew up with her father Jian Zhong Guo who raised hogs.

The Office of the Solicitor General is now gathering information about Alice Leal Guo, supposedly born on July 12, 1986, who on her initial foray into Philippine politics was elected mayor of Bamban, a second-class municipality in Tarlac with 15 barangays and 45,008 registered voters. In a seven-cornered fight, Guo, who ran as an independent, edged out her closest rival, barangay captain Joey Salting, by a margin of just 468 votes.

Guo was hailed as the first female mayor of Bamban. Today her considerable assets, businesses and links to Philippine offshore gaming operator firms in the town are under scrutiny and she is suspected to be a Chinese spy, with the POGO hub in her property suspected to be engaged in cyber scams, human trafficking and cyber attacks.

For a homeschooled single woman raised on a pig farm, Guo has amassed impressive assets in her 37 years: a helicopter that she has reportedly sold, a limited edition luxury British-made McLaren 620R race car, and majority shares in 11 companies set up since 2010 with her as one of the incorporators. The companies are engaged in activities ranging from agribusiness to embroidery, real estate and siopao. She owned half of the sprawling Baofu Compound that housed two illegal POGOs – Hongsheng Gaming Technology Inc. and Zun Yuan Technology Inc.

Commission on Elections officials have said they presumed regularity in accepting the certificate of candidacy of Guo, who claims to have lived in Barangay Virgen delos Remedios in Bamban for 18 years and two months when she filed the COC. There have been no electoral protests filed against her, the Comelec also said while noting that she registered as a voter only in 2018. Guo declared campaign expenditures of P134,000 – just P1,024 shy of the limit set by law.

The question is how someone with such a hazy background managed to get this far in life in this country. Whether it was due merely to the presumption of regularity or because of lapses, corruption and other anomalies, Guo’s case raises red flags in the quality of governance.

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