Senate POGO hearing: Navy officer calls for justice after falling victim to identity theft

A Philippine Navy officer called for justice after disclosing to the Senate Committee on Women, Children, Family Relations and Gender Equality how she fell victim to identity theft.


Jessa Mendoza.jpg
Philippine Navy Lt. Jessa Mendoza testifies at the Senate Committee on Women, Children, Family Relations and Gender Equality’s hearing on POGO-related crimes how she became a victim of identity theft. (Senate PRIB Photo)


Testifying at the continuation of the Senate panel’s investigation into POGO-related crimes, Lt. Jessa Mendoza told senators she experienced extreme distress after she was charged for tax violations as an incorporator of certain Chinese companies she never had any affiliations with. 


An emotional Mendoza told the committee how her problem started in April 2023 when she received a Letter of Authority (LOA) from the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) for a tax deficiency linked to Xin Wanhao Online Game Technology, Inc. 


The Navy official said she didn’t give it much thought, because she did not have any links with the company. But five months later, she received another LOA for a tax deficiency, this time with a company named Handy International Prime Carry, Inc. where her name appeared as treasurer of the said corporation. 


“To make matters worse,” she said, some of her family members also appeared on the same LOA; two other individuals—Xiaohui Da and Wei He—were listed as incorporators and directors.


“I do not know who these individuals are and I was never involved in the incorporation and operation of Handy International Prime Carry, Inc.,” Mendoza told the committee chaired by Sen. Risa Hontiveros.


But according to Mendoza, she got more distressed in April 2024 when she received a subpoena from the Makati City Prosecutor’s Office directing her to submit her counter-affidavit “relative to the non-registration, non-remittance, non-production, and non-reporting of Serart Construction Corp. in violations of Republic Act No. 11199, also known as the Social Security Act of 2018.”


Except for two relatives whose names were also listed as incorporators, Mendoza said she is not involved in the Serart company. Two other foreigners—Zhijian Yi and Haiyan Zhang—were listed as incorporators in this particular company. 


“I was indicted for allegedly violating the SSS Act and a warrant of arrest was issued against me…to prevent imprisonment, I had to post a cash bond of P108,000,” she said. 


She further said that her legal counsel found out that the credentials of the notary public that supposedly notarized the articles of incorporation of Serart Construction Corp. was non-existent. 


Mendoza said that after she was given a subpoena, she requested the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) on April 22, for a reversed search of the filiations of all the corporations that are under her name and found out that she is listed as an incorporator  for no less than 193 corporations that used her Tax Identification Number (TIN) and signature. 


Of the 193, more than half or around 102 have foreign sounding names. “Prior to my receipt of the result of the reversed search, I was not aware of the existence of any of these corporations,” Mendoza told the Senate panel.


Subsequently, Mendoza said she filed a petition for revocation against the corporations that wrongfully associated her with their boards. That same week, she also filed a police blotter informing about her situation. 


“As I take the necessary actions to extricate myself from this situation, I must confess that I am apprehensive about a number issues. I am, of course, concerned that the possible criminal record that my situation will expose me to might hinder my pursuit to serve the nation and negatively affect my career progression,” she said.


“I have just completed my law studies and I fear that my many years of hard work studying law and my dreams of becoming a lawyer will never come to fruition. But above all, I am afraid for my family. I am afraid that they too, will be affected and, while I am not afraid for myself, I am afraid that their lives may be endangered,” she lamented. 


Mendoza further said that she have already spent a part of her military career patrolling the West Philippine Sea, “contributing, in my own small way, to the greater effort to safeguard our territorial integrity against foreign intrusion.”


“It is tragic that, after returning to the supposed safety of our shores, I now find my very person invaded by natural and juridical personalities with foreign sounding names. But the greater tragedy is the real possibility that I will be prosecuted and tried by the instrumentalities of the very institution that I have sworn to defend and protect, even at the cost of my own life,” she lamented. 


“Your honor, I confirm myself that I did not sign any of those articles of incorporations of the 193 corporations listed and provided for by the SEC,” she told the panel.


When asked by Hontiveros if she remembered handing over her TIN Identification Card to anyone, Mendoza said it was her cousin who borrowed her ID, saying she handed it to her out of “respect, trust and confidence” since she was staying in their house during that time. 


According to Mendoza, her cousin, who is married to a certain Henry Liu, or Liu Yang, a full-blooded Chinese, borrowed her ID for a few minutes and returned it to her immediately. When she asked her cousin where she would use it, her cousin did not respond but assured her that she also asked for her own father’s ID. 


“Years later, I found out that the purpose why she borrowed my ID was for the creation of her travel agency that did not become operational. It was also not in the list of the 193 corporations,” she said.


However, Hontiveros pointed out that out of the 193 corporations, two of them stood out: Hong Tai Corp., and Yangtze River Holdings.


Mendoza said she had no idea about the two companies, except until she was told these two were POGO hubs that were raided in Las Piñas City last year.


But Hontiveros eventually showed a photo showing Michael Yang, former economic adviser of former president Rodrigo Duterte, and the ex-president himself in a photo together. Yang is also founder of Yangtze River Group in the Philippines. 


Mendoza, however, denied having any links with Michael Yang. “Hindi ko po siya kilala, wala po kami kahit anong engagement or transactions na nakasama ko si Michael Yang, your honor,” she told Hontiveros.