Why is this small-town mayor accused of being a Chinese spy?


A quiet town in the Philippines, Bamban, has suddenly become the center of national attention. The town’s mayor, Alice Guo, is being accused of being a Chinese agent. This unexpected turn of events has raised many questions about her background and her involvement in local businesses.

Bamban and Its Mayor

Bamban is a small, unassuming town located in the rice-growing flood plains north of Manila, the capital of the Philippines. The town’s mayor, Alice Guo, is a young and energetic public servant. She is 35 years old, wears glasses, has long black hair, and often dresses in pink. She speaks Tagalog without any foreign accent and claims to have grown up on a pig farm.

The Senate Hearing

The controversy started when Mayor Guo was called to testify at a Senate hearing. Law enforcement had discovered that an online casino, known locally as a Pogo, in her town was actually a front for a scam operation. This facility was raided in March, and nearly 700 workers were rescued. Among them were 202 Chinese nationals and 73 other foreigners who were forced to pose as online lovers.

Pogos and Their History

Pogo stands for Philippine Offshore Gambling Operator. These businesses cater mainly to Chinese clients. Pogos became popular during the presidency of Rodrigo Duterte, who had close ties with China. However, under the current president, Ferdinand Marcos, Pogos are being scrutinized closely due to their links to human trafficking and online scams.

Mayor Guo’s Alleged Connections

During the Senate hearing, it was revealed that Mayor Guo owned half of the land where the Pogo was located. This property was just behind her office. She claimed to have sold the land before she ran for mayor two years ago. Videos of the eight-hectare compound showed a grocery store, warehouse, swimming pool, and even a wine cellar. The workers at the scam center were seen working at long rows of white tables with computers.

Assets and Accusations

Mayor Guo was also found to have a helicopter and a Ford Expedition registered under her name. She said that these were sold long ago, just like the land. During the Senate hearing, Senator Risa Hontiveros questioned whether Guo was an “asset” of China due to her vague answers about her personal and business background.

President Marcos’ Response

President Ferdinand Marcos expressed his concerns about the case. He stated that no one knew much about Guo and that her background was being investigated. He mentioned that the Bureau of Immigration was also involved in the investigation due to questions about her citizenship.

Mayor Guo’s Background

Little is known about Mayor Guo’s background, which is unusual in the rural Philippines where local officials often come from well-known political families. She is serving her first term as an elected official. The Commission on Elections noted that she registered to vote in Bamban in 2021, just a year before running for mayor. Her family name, Guo, is not common among Filipinos with Chinese ancestry, adding to the mystery.

Birth and Education Records

Under questioning by senators, Mayor Guo admitted that her birth certificate was only registered with local authorities when she was 17. She explained this by saying she was born at home, not in a hospital or clinic. However, she could not provide more details. She said she was home-schooled on the family compound, where they also raised pigs, but could only name one of her teachers and couldn’t remember the home school organization.

She stated that her father was Filipino, but business records identified him as a Chinese citizen. In a 2022 campaign speech, she said, “I am Alice Guo from Bamban. My mother is Filipina, my father is Chinese.”

Senators’ Concerns

Senator Risa Hontiveros expressed alarm at Mayor Guo’s vague answers, particularly about her background. She questioned whether Guo and others like her with mysterious backgrounds might be working as assets for China to influence Philippine politics. Senator Sherwin Gatchalian also voiced his skepticism, noting that it was hard to believe Guo when her answers were often “I don’t know,” and she couldn’t remember basic details about her past.

Avoidance of Media

Since her Senate appearance, Mayor Guo has largely avoided media interviews and has not commented on the spying allegations. President Marcos stated that the investigation aimed to prevent foreign nationals from holding public office in the Philippines. He emphasized that the country was not targeting any specific nation but was focused on tightening law enforcement and preventing corruption.

Legal Investigations

The Commission on Elections and the Solicitor General are investigating whether Guo has been holding public office unlawfully. If proven, she could be removed from her position as mayor. President Marcos highlighted the need for strict enforcement of laws to prevent foreign interference in Philippine politics.

The case of Mayor Alice Guo has brought significant attention to Bamban and raised serious questions about foreign influence in the Philippines. As investigations continue, the truth about her background and connections may soon come to light, potentially impacting her political career and the town she governs. This situation underscores the importance of transparency and accountability in public office, especially in regions with complex political and economic ties.


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