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Tuesday, July 23, 2024

Human trafficking raps filed vs. Guo, 13 others

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Human trafficking charges were filed on Friday against Bamban Mayor Alice Guo and 13 others in connection with the raided Philippine Offshore Gaming Operator (POGO) hub in her municipality.

The Presidential Anti-Organized Crime Commission (PAOCC) and the Philippine National Police-Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (PNP-CIDG) submitted the complaints with the Department of Justice against Guo and her alleged conspirators.

Her co-accused include former Technology and Livelihood Resource Center (TLRC) deputy director general Dennis Cunanan, as well as 12 officers and incorporators for violating provisions under Republic Act (RA) 9208 or the Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act of 2003, as amended by other laws.

Other respondents include Guo’s alleged business partner Huang Zhiyang, who is a fugitive in China; Zhang Ruijin and Baoying Li, two individuals who are allegedly involved in the biggest money laundering case in Singapore.

PAOCC and CIDG also tagged Guo as alias “Guo Hua Ping” in the complaint.

“There is evidence such as the fact that she applied for a letter of no objection from the local government. Her involvement in the lesser company was also noted,” complainants PAOCC and PNP-CIDG stated in the complaint.

“There is also other evidence such as her name appearing in many documents in the POGO compound,” Inter-Agency Council Against Trafficking (IACAT) chairperson and Justice Undersecretary Nicky Ty said in a briefing.

Sen. Risa Hontiveros warmly welcomed the filing of cases and thanked the PAOCC and DOJ-IACAT for their efforts in going after criminal POGO hubs and the rescue of the Filipino and foreign victims.

As author and sponsor of the Expanded Trafficking in Persons Act, the senator said she was pleased to see that this law is not only protecting the vulnerable but also holding power to account.

She hopes that Guo will now tell the truth and stop playing innocent and expectd to see her in the upcoming hearings of the Senate committee on women, children, family relations and gender equality which she chairs.

Senator Sherwin Gatchalian, on the other hand, raised the possibility that Guo might be a “flight risk.”

If she has a Chinese passport, she can go to China anytime and stay there.

“If this is the case, they cannot do anything about it if she’s a Chinese citizen,” he added.

According to Ty, the DOJ is now processing the Immigration Lookout Bulletin against Guo, which may be issued next week.

“Anyone charged with a crime is a flight risk, especially if he they have resources to go abroad. Hopefully, she will not leave as her representatives said that he wants to face the allegations against her,” the IACAT official noted.

Apart from this, Ty said Guo cannot travel without a travel authority as a public official.

Ty said that “there is a possibility” that other complaints may be filed against Guo and others.

The Bamban mayor was placed under investigation for her alleged links to the 10-hectare POGO compound that was raided in March for illegal activities that include crypto and love scams.

Earlier in June, the Department of the Interior and Local Government filed graft charges against Guo with the Office of the Ombudsman, prompting it to suspend her for up to six months.

Guo’s identity as a Filipino is also under question before the Senate.

Meanwhile, CIDG chief Leo Francisco said they are intensifying the fight against illegal POGOs due to standing orders from Executive Secretary Lucas Bersamin, Interior and Local Government Secretary Benjamin Abalos, Jr. and Defense Secretary Gilbert Teodoro.

Editor’s Note: This is an updated article. Originally posted with the headline “Human trafficking raps vs Alice Guo, others filed with DOJ.”

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