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A Chinese ‘asset’? Philippines raises alarm over mystery mayor suspected of links to Pogos

“Is she, along with others like her who have mahiwaga [mysterious] backgrounds, an asset inserted by China into our government to have a heavy influence in Philippine politics?” Senator Risa Hontiveros asked during a press conference on May 8.

Hontiveros’ comments came the day after a senate hearing in which Guo failed to provide details about her early life and background, fuelling suspicions about her links to Zun Yuan Technology Corp, a Philippine offshore gaming operator (Pogo) in the Baofu compound in Bamban, a town northwest of Manila where Guo has been mayor since 2022.

Investigators have accused Pogos of being involved in human trafficking, cyber scams and possibly hacking and surveillance of government agencies.

During a senate hearing on May 7, Hontiveros warned that “separate sources in the intelligence community and various executive agencies are sounding the alarm of large tracts of land around EDCA sites being purchased by Chinese nationals with Filipino identity documents [involving] late registration of birth”.

EDCA sites are joint US-Philippine military facilities, created through the two countries’ Enhanced Defence Cooperation Agreement, that allow for the rotational presence of US troops. Bamban is located 30km north of Basa Air Base, one of the country’s nine EDCA sites.

Summoned to that hearing, Guo, 37, appeared unable or unwilling to explain gaps in her background. She testified that she had only applied for a birth certificate at 17, claimed she had no hospital birth records because she was born at home, and said she was homeschooled, leaving no formal school records. She said her father had both a Filipino name – Angelito Guo – and a Chinese one, Jian Zhong Guo.

Guo, who showed fluency in Tagalog,