PSA flags irregularities in Bamban Mayor Alice Guo's birth certificate

PSA flags irregularities in Bamban Mayor Alice Guo's birth certificate
Bamban, Tarlac Mayor Alice Guo attends a kickoff flag raising event at the Tarlac Police Provincial Office in celebration of National Women’s Month in March 2024.
From Mayor Alice Leal Guo's Facebook page

MANILA, Philippines — The Philippine Statistics Authority confirmed on Wednesday that they found several discrepancies in the birth certificate of Bamban Mayor Alice Guo, including the absence of any government record that proves her mother's existence and her parents' marriage.

During the Senate women committee hearing, Sen. Loren Legarda also flagged the possibility that based on Guo's case, the operations of the so-called "syndicate" that allowed dozens of foreigners obtain Philippine passports using fake birth certificates, which is being probed by the blue ribbon committee, is "all rooted in the PSA."

Sen. Risa Hontiveros, chair of the Senate women committee, said during the hearing that no existing PSA documents prove the marriage and identity of the parents listed in her birth certificate: Angelito Guo and Amelia Leal.

While Guo's birth certificate states that her father's nationality was Filipino, Guo herself said her father was Chinese and a Chinese passport holder.
Based on these details, the PSA said that there is a "high possibility" that Guo's father — the person who provided the information used to belatedly register Guo's birth — provided false information.

"We can believe that there are several irregularities in this birth certificate," said lawyer Eliezer Ambatali, director of the PSA's legal service.

Based on their fact-finding investigation, PSA Assistant National Statistician Marizza Grande said Guo's mother, Amelia Leal, "is not existing" as she does not have any birth, marriage or death certificate.

Sen. Sherwin Gatchalian asked Ambatali if it is possible that Amelia Leal is not a real person, to which the PSA official answered in the affirmative. 

With three "critical irregularities" marring Guo's birth certificate, namely her parents' marriage, her father's nationality and her mother's identity, Gatchalian clarified whether the Bamban mayor's birth certificate could still be used as a primary document to obtain other IDs and records.

"A birth certificate that is registered may be used as a basis (for other documents), but it is not an absolute basis for the existence of a person," Ambatali said. 

The PSA official explained that a case can be filed to cancel an individual's birth certificate if it does not meet the minimum requirements needed to declare a birth certificate as valid.
The PSA's investigation found that Guo's birth did not have any supporting documents except for the "negative certification" that basically proves Guo does not have any record prior to her birth. 

Guo's birth certificate appeared to be purely based on the information provided by her father, Gatchalian pointed out.

"It appears there is an irregularity in the registration because there are no supporting documents," Grande said.

Citing PSA records, Grande added that contrary to Guo's earlier testimony that she is an only child, a certain "Shiela Leal Guo" and "Seimen Leal Guo" also listed Amelia and Angelito as their parents.
The PSA also found that in total, Amelia and Angelito had four children, two of which are registered in Tarlac City, while the other two are registered in Caloocan City.

Gatchalian said that irregularities in Guo's birth certificate points to even more evidence of how non-Filipinos have abused PSA's late birth registration policy to obtain government documents, findings that were previously established by the the powerful blue ribbon committee.

Besides endorsing the case to the Office of Solicitor General for the filing of a petition to cancel the documents, the PSA may also block the birth certificate to prevent it from being used in official transactions. 

Ambatali said the PSA revised its guidelines on the registration of late births in October 2021 after receiving several reports of inividuals "abusing delayed registration to get a legal identity."

Spike in foreigners owning Filipino passports 

Legarda, who flagged the issue of foreigners obtaining real Philippine passports during last year's budget hearing, said that the problem proves that a "syndicate" in government is aiding the practice.

"If there is a syndicate in government agencies... For sure there is, because how will you obtain a birth certificate and an authentic passport except through syndicates working in government?" the senator said in Filipino.

She said that not only are the non-Filipinos competing with legitimate Filipino citizens in the governments' financial aid programs, but they can also run for public office.

"If they can fake their birth certificate, what more for other IDs emanating from that?" the senator said. — Cristina Chi

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