Ombudsman rejects Alice Guo’s request to lift suspension order

MANILA. Bamban, Tarlac Mayor Alice Guo.
MANILA. Bamban, Tarlac Mayor Alice Guo.Photo from Risa Hontiveros Facebook page

THE Office of the Ombudsman has rejected the request of embattled Bamban, Tarlac Mayor Alice Guo and three others to lift their suspension order amid the ongoing investigation on their alleged involvement in the illegal Philippine Offshore Gaming Operator (Pogo).

In its order dated June 18, which was only made public on Tuesday, June 25, 2024, the Ombudsman reiterated that there are “sufficient grounds to hold that the evidence against respondents Guo, Campo and Sigua is strong,” particularly their business interest in the property being leased by Zun Yuan Technology Incorporated (ZYTI) near the Bamban Municipal Hall.

Guo, along with Edwin Ocampo, Bamban’s Business Permit and Licensing Officer, and Adden Sigua, municipal legal officer, was suspended in May in relation to the charges of grave misconduct, serious dishonesty, gross neglect of duty and conduct prejudicial to the best interest of the service filed against them by the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG).

The DILG alleged that “Guo did not cancel or revoke their business permits because of her business interest in Baofu.”

It said Sigua was remiss in his duty after he failed to investigate or cause to be investigated the negligence of the Municipal Council in issuing resolution interposing no objection to the application of the ZYTI and for failing to investigate or cause the probe against Ocampo for processing and issuing business permits to ZYTI despite some deficiencies in its application.

The DILG asserted that Guo failed to ensure that Ocampo and Sigua faithfully discharge their duties and functions on looking over the application of ZYTI’s business permits.

The Ombudsman also noted that the purpose of the suspension is to prevent the accused from using his position and the powers and prerogative of her office to influence potential witnesses or to tamper with records which may be vital in the prosecution of the case against her.

Guo is in bad light following the raid in ZYTI in March that resulted in the apprehension of 800 employees, including around 500 foreigners, of which 427 were Chinese nationals.

The raid stemmed from a complaint of one of its Vietnamese workers who escaped from the facility, which is located in the 7.9-hectare property, owned by Baofu Land Development Inc., (BLDI), a few meters away from the Municipal Hall of Bamban in Tarlac.

The Senate Committee on Women, Children, Family Relations, and Gender Equality chaired by Senator Risa Hontiveros launched on May 7, 2024 its probe into ZYTI.

Guo earlier admitted that he used to own half of the Baofu land but she already divested before she took office. (TPM/SunStar Philippines)

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