Cited for contempt at Senate, Guo goes to SC for help

Cited for contempt at Senate, Guo goes to SC for help

By: - Reporter / @MRamosINQ
/ 05:32 AM July 11, 2024

Cited for contempt at Senate, Guo goes to SC for help

Suspended Bamban Mayor Alice Guo. —photo from the official Facebook page of Sen. Risa Hontiveros

MANILA, Philippines — Facing arrest after being cited in contempt for snubbing anew the Senate hearing on the illegal activities of Philippine offshore gaming operators (Pogos), embattled Mayor Alice Guo of Bamban town in Tarlac province has run to the Supreme Court for help.

Sen. Risa Hontiveros, who is leading the probe as chair of the Senate committee on women, children, family relations and gender equality, on Wednesday cited Guo in contempt after she failed to appear at the hearing for the second time.

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READ: Alice Guo and 7 others cited for contempt, ordered arrested

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Also held in contempt were Guo’s siblings Sheila, Seimen and Wesley; their supposed parents, Chinese nationals Jian Zhong Guo and Lin Wenyi; Nancy Gamo, the accountant of the companies owned by Guo’s family, and Dennis Cunanan, who had served as the authorized representative of Hongsheng Gaming Technology Inc. that the Philippine Anti-Organized Crime Commission (PAOCC) raided in Bamban.

Hontiveros said she would immediately write a letter asking Senate President Francis Escudero to issue arrest warrants against Guo and the others.

“Under the rules of the Senate, the practical implication of [a person] being cited in contempt is the issuance of the warrant of arrest,” Hontiveros told reporters after the hearing that lasted five hours.

“We will look for them. And we will find them eventually,” she warned.

Sen. Sherwin Gatchalian, who made the motion to hold Guo and the others in contempt, said the controversial mayor’s decision not to participate in the hearing only proved her direct involvement in the activities of illegal Pogos.

“It is dismaying that we invited these important resource persons to give them a chance to give their side. But it seems that they do not respect the Senate and its institution,” Gatchalian lamented.

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“Their failure to attend is a sign of guilt,” he stressed.

The senators did not buy Guo’s excuse that her worsening mental health and physical condition prompted her to again skip the hearing.

“It’s unfair to those with genuine mental health conditions. Mental health is a serious issue and should not be used as an excuse for dishonesty,” Sen. Nancy Binay said.

Violated rights

On the same day as the Senate hearing, Guo’s lawyers filed a petition for certiorari at the Supreme Court, seeking to stop the Senate committee from inviting her to appear in the hearings.

In a 78-page petition, Guo asked the high tribunal to junk the subpoena issued by the Senate panel for her to appear in the public hearings.

The suspended local official also appealed for an issuance of a temporary restraining order or writ of preliminary injunction against Hontiveros, arguing that the lawmaker committed grave abuse of discretion, amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction, when she subjected Guo to “public prosecution and humiliation” during an earlier public hearing.

“With due respect, the inquiries, as apparent as it could be on the transcripts, did not really pinpoint how it can help the committee in crafting relevant laws in regulating Pogo, in cyber fraud and in human trafficking,” the petitioner said through her legal counsel.

Guo’s camp claimed that in conducting the inquiries, the Senate committee violated her constitutional rights, right to due process, and right to privacy.

While she was invited as a resource person to share her knowledge on the alleged illegal activities of Pogos in her jurisdiction, the petition argued that she was “never afforded any opportunity to sufficiently explain her side” whenever a certain issue was raised.

“Although she was being asked questions relative to the issues against her, her side of the story was never considered for she was already branded, called and concluded to be a ‘liar,’ ‘spy,’ and ‘Pogo operator,’” it said.

The petition also pointed out that the questions asked of her did not touch on her official duties but focused on her private life.

“Arguably, the fact that she can speak another foreign language or that she cannot speak another native language, the fact that she was homeschooled in her prime years, the fact that she owns properties and businesses, or that she does not know or she never met her mother, have nothing to do with these inquiries as these are all private concerns of a private citizen,” it said.

“On top of all the cases filed against Guo, it is the Public Respondent’s act as if it were a court, instead of a Senate inquiry with the aim of aiding legislation, which puts Guo in a position as if she were a criminal,” it pointed out.

More damning evidence

During the resumption of the Senate hearing, Gatchalian presented another set of documents to belie Guo’s earlier claim that she did not have any formal education since she was just homeschooled in a pig farm owned by her father.

According to him, Guo actually completed the first three years of her basic education at Grace Christian High School in Quezon City from 2000 to 2003.

The senator, who also attended the same school, presented copies of her report card.

“Apparently, Guo Hua Ping, or Alice Guo, did not grow up on a farm and was not homeschooled,” Gatchalian surmised.

“She really studied [here]. And as I recall, there was no farm in our school. There were just buildings,” he added, eliciting chuckles from those who attended the hearing.

Gatchalian also showed copies of an alien certificate of registration from the Bureau of Immigration (BI).

The documents were issued to one Guo Hua Ping, whom authorities believed was Guo’s real identity based on the fingerprint analysis conducted by the National Bureau of Investigation and other government records.

One of the travel documents, which had a photo of a young girl, showed that the BI had issued an alien certificate of registration to Hua Ping on Dec. 9, 1999.

The bureau again granted Hua Ping with the same certificate on Nov. 8, 2004.

Gatchalian noted that the document had a picture of a teenage girl who looked like a young Guo.

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The NBI had earlier said that Hua Ping first entered the country as a 13-year-old on Jan. 12, 2003, using a special investor resident visa.

TAGS: Alice Guo, NBI, PAOCC, Risa Hontiveros, Senator Sherwin Gatchalian, Supreme Court

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