Senators urge PSA to crackdown on syndicates giving fake birth docs to foreign nationals

Senators on Wednesday, May 22 urged the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) to crack down a possible syndicate operating inside the agency and are giving PSA-certified copies of birth certificates to foreign nationals in order to obtain authentic Philippine passport.

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Bamban, Tarlac Mayor Alice Leal Guo (Photo by Office of Sen. Risa Hontiveros)

At the continuation of the Senate’s hearing on the illegal activities of Philippine Offshore Gaming Operators (POGO), Sen. Loren Legarda said it is imperative for the PSA to pin down the syndicates involved in the fraudulent acquisition of birth certificate by foreign nationals.


Legarda grilled Bamban, Tarlac Mayor Alice Leal Guo, who has denied having any links to the POGO firm raided by authorities earlier this year due to complaints about human trafficking and alleged hacking incidents traced to the firm.


“There were 308 fake birth certificates that you said were issued, that were used for Philippine passports, in 2023. So I would assume that the DFA (Department of Foreign Affairs) had canceled their passports. And I would assume that you had filed cases or even invalidated the fake birth certificates,” Legarda told PSA officials present during the hearing.


In response, Eliezer P. Ambatali, PSA legal service counsel, said the agency had already conducted an investigation and filed the necessary administrative cases against those involved.


“Certainly, we have determined different kinds of fraud here. The first fraud that is proliferating is the tampering on the issued documents in our PSA outlets. These are the most frequent fraudulent action. The other type of fraud is fraud at the source, which is happening at the local civil registry office,” Ambatali explained. 


In questioning Guo’s identity, Legarda got irked at the mayor after she asked her about her childhood but failed to provide concrete details of her time when she grew up inside their farm. 


"If you're really Chinese and fronting for other people, go back to your country! But if you are Filipino and you were born here, convince us because we want to be convinced. So I'm trying to help you by trying to make you recall about your childhood. Hindi pwedeng kasi parang scripted. Kasi I was born on this, this is what I can remember and then when I ask you the same question it’s the same rote. So convince us," Legarda said, pointing to Guo during the hearing.


But Guo insisted that she grew up in the farm and that her father used to just visit her within the vicinity. However, senators zeroed in on the irregularities in the mayor’s birth records, noting that there are no supporting documents to prove that the information provided by her father, Angelito Guo, were true.


Guo also claimed that her biological mother, Amelia Leal, is a Filipino house helper and that she is their “love child”—a matter Sen. Raffy Tulfo debunked as the mayor’s birth records showed that her parents tied the knot on Oct. 14, 1982 and Jan. 21, 1987.


Ambatali also confirmed that the PSA has no record of Amelia Leal and Angelito Guo that would prove they were born in the Philippines. 


Sen. Sherwin Gatchalian also expressed concern that the PSA has become lax in releasing official documents particularly birth certificates to the detriment of the country’s national security. 


“She declared in her certificate of candidacy that she is a Filipino, but her birth certificate is irregular and you cannot say she is truly Filipino because of this irregularity,” Gatchalian pointed out.


Gatchalian warned that while many documents have been required to apply for any government position, it is the birth certificate that is the primary requirement in applying for a certificate of candidacy, from mayor to even the highest government position of the land—the Presidency.


“If that (birth certificate) will be the basis, a candidate who is not really a Filipino can run for office, like what I had just said, for mayor, congressman, governor, senator, even for vice president and president of the country, just because anybody can lie using a fraudulent birth certificate,” Gatchalian said.


“What I have been requesting to the PSA is to be strict in the issuance of birth certificates because it is prone to abuse,” he stressed.


Sen. Risa Hontiveros, chairperson of the Senate panel investigating POGO-related issues, also said she found Guo lying to the committee, as she compared the mayor’s testimony before the panel and her earlier televised interview on ANC’s Headstart.


“She claimed in the televised interview that her mother left her after she was born. But in the hearing, you admitted that there were other children and you have two more siblings. And that you learned their names are Shiela and Siemen, and you admitted that you lied in the last hearing to protect them,” Hontiveros pointed out.


Hontiveros also scored Guo for claiming she doesn’t know a certain Nancy Gamo who is also involved in the POGO business, but later on recalled her memory when the panel showed documents as proof. 


“Ipinipilit niyo na simpleng tao lang kayo. Pero ang laman ng SALN niyo, daan-daang milyong piso. Mayor Guo, pagsisinungaling pa rin po ang paglilihim ng katotohanan (You insist you are a simple person, but your Statement of Assets, Liabilities and Net worth show that  you have millions of pesos. Mayor Guo, hiding the truth is also lying),” she pointed out.


“Kayo lang ang nakilala kong tao na hindi daw kilala ang kapatid, pero magkasama sa travel abroad. Nakikipag-partner sa milyun-milyong pisong negosyo na di kilala ang kasosyo.  Humihiram ng kotse, pero di alam ang pangalan ng hiniraman. Nagbenta ng chopper at may utang pa sa inyo, pero di kilala ang pangalan ng sisingilin (You’re the only person I know who claims she doesn’t know her sibling, but you travel abroad. You partner in numerous businesses but you don’t know these businessmen. You rent a car, but you can’t recall the name of the person you borrowed from. You sold your chopper and they still owe you, but you don’t know the name of the borrower),” Hontiveros said.