The Comelec made Alice Guo incredible

May 15, 2024

For the multitudes of us who are not lawyers, Comelec chairman George Garcia’s statement was incredulous: the Comelec only has a “ministerial duty” to accept certificates of candidacies (COC). In other words, Comelec has no power to disqualify a candidate upon filing of candidacy.

Let us parse Garcia’s statements. In summary these are what he says.

First, he said no one filed a disqualification case against the suspected Red Chinese woman Alice Guo when she filed her candidacy for the May 2022 elections as mayoral candidate of Bamban, Tarlac (population: 78,260 as per 2020 census; a 2nd class municipality).

Second, Garcia said the Comelec’s role in the filing of COCs is just to “check if the questions stated in the form have been accomplished and sworn to.” That is all, he claims. “Pagkatapos po noon, yun po ay sapat na sa amin” (After checking, that is enough for us).

Third, Garcia said Comelec’s jurisdiction only covers the period of the filing up to the candidate’s proclamation as winner.

Fourth, Garcia said only a court can handle any petition or case against any proclaimed candidate. The petition, Garcia said, can be filed in any regional trial court.

By ministerial, Garcia means clerical, that the act of checking the COC is simply routine, nothing more. He means the procedure is merely regular and has no other special objective.

Garcia is promoting anarchy in our election system. If his “ministerial” hypothesis is to be followed, any Tom, Dick or Harry can run for any position no matter their paucities in qualifications. Because it is a fact that there are qualifications prescribed by the constitution and the law, particularly in the Local Government Code.

The toast of the town is Alice Guo, a.k.a. Alice Leal Guo. She was plucked from nowhere to run as mayor of Bamban. No one in Bamban had known her. Only the incumbent mayor who had endorsed her candidacy, Jose Antonio Feliciano, had known her.

It is of curious interest what Feliciano got in return for his endorsement of the anonymous Guo – Bamban has a vast POGO complex that stands on a property Guo claims as hers. Did money change hands even in her candidacy alone? What benefits did Feliciano enjoy from allowing the operation of a vast POGO complex right behind his municipal hall? The senate committee of senator Risa Hontiveros should also summon Feliciano.

It was the municipal government that approved Guo’s application for the license of Hongsheng Gaming Technologies Inc. to operate the POGO complex.

The unknown Guo easily won the contest by a majority vote of 16,503. It was a close fight. Her opponent Joey Salting Jr. got 16,035. How much did she buy the voters of Bamban? There should be no doubt that was the path she took to win. Let us not kid ourselves — all our candidates do that, from the national to the local. With her ties to POGO, Guo must have cashed her way to her victory. The senate committee can easily find testimonies from Bamban residents.

Citizenship is certainly germane to candidacy. The Comelec has a long record of disqualifying many candidates for having foreign citizenship. Garcia and his commissioners know that established fact.

Did Guo even qualify for residency? She does not even know where she was born. For a young girl her age, that is a source of complete disbelief. The observing public can easily conclude she is lying. The senate should lock her up for contempt ASAP.

Who was derelict in its duties? It is George Garcia’s Comelec. In fact and in law, the Omnibus Election Code gives it the power to disqualify candidates. Section 69 of the Code empowers the Comelec to declare nuisance candidates and thereby strike them off the list within five days from the last filing day. There are two ways that can be done: “Comelec may, motu proprio or upon a verified petition, declare a candidate a nuisance.” If there is no verified petition, the Comelec can act on its own.

In the case of Guo, if she is indeed a citizen of Red China – and she has already admitted her father Jian Zhong Guo is a Red Chinese citizen and that her alleged mother Amelia Leal is nowhere to be found – is a clear case of subverting the electoral process by denying “equal access to opportunities for public service” of other citizens. That is what the Constitution says in Article II Section 26.

Jurisprudence by the Supreme Court (Pamatong vs Comelec, G.R. No. 161872) holds that “running for public office is merely a privilege subject to limitation imposed by law, such as the prohibition on nuisance candidates.”

The high court said: “The disqualification of candidates who have not evinced a bona fide intention to run for office is easy to divine.”

But for the Garcia Comelec, a nuisance candidate is not easy to divine. Garcia wants us to have filed a case against Guo, or to remove her now by quo warranto.

And then the Comelec will act, by a votation among its commissioners once comprised of George Garcia (election lawyer of Ferdinand Marcos Jr.), Aimee Ferolino of Davao city, Socorro Inting of Davao city, Marlon Casquejo of Davao city, Aimee Neri of Davao city and Rodrigo Duterte’s wedding godchild, and Rey Bulay the fraternity brother of Duterte.

And who chairs the Senate Electoral Reforms Committee? It is Imee Marcos, pictured seated intimately with Guo inside a van.

Alice Guo is a perfect storm.

The views in this column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of VERA Files.

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VERA Files

VERA Files is a nonstock, nonprofit, independent media organization. Founded in March 2008, it is published by veteran Filipino journalists taking a deeper look into current Philippine issues. Vera is Latin for “true.”

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