By ALFREDO P HERNANDEZ
Sangguniang Bayan Member Pompe D Guzman (left)… all allegations of anomalies denied. –MWBuzzpic by AP HERNANDEZ
MAMBULAO, CamNorte: I never knew Mrs Susan Ong-Guzman, wife of Mambulao Sangguniang Bayan Member Pompe D Guzman, from Adam, but during our chanced encounter last week at her public market store, she poured out her heart’s aches to this complete stranger as if tomorrow won’t come anymore.
Our meeting was unexpected.
I was looking for a shop that could plastic-laminate my PhilHealth ID that I got while working my POEA exit clearance and my feet led me to a darkened shop where the service was offered.
Greeting an elderly woman behind the shop counter, I fished out my new, bare ID card and handed it over to her.
For quite some time, she concentrated on the fine print in the card, looked up and said: Kayo po si Mr Alfredo P Hernandez ng Jose Panganiban Facebook at MWBuzz?
“Opo,” I replied.
“Ako po si Mrs Susan Ong Guzman, asawa po ni Konsehal Guzman ...”
“Matagal ko na po kayong gustong makausap at nabuhayan po ako ng loob ng sabihin po ng kaibigan ko sa Assessor’s Office sa munisipyo last week na nandito raw po kayo sa Mambulao ...”
“At magbuhat po ng araw na iyon, ipinagdasal ko po na sana’y magkita tayo ....”
Her prayer for a desperate meeting with me was apparently answered. Immediately, I knew why.
“Gusto ko pong pabulaanan ang mga paratang na isinulat ninyo sa Facebook at sa MWBuzz laban po sa aking asawang si Pompe D Guzman ... lahat pong iyon ay walang katutuhanan ... napakabuting tao po ng aking asawa at talagang naglilingkod po siya para sa kapakanan ng mga taga-Mambulao...”
“Sana po ay magawan po ninyo ng kaukulang pagtutuwid ... masyado pong naapektuhan ang aking mga anak... ang aming buong pamilya ...”
I was touched.
Her eyes welled and the few minutes that I expected would quickly burn out glowed to almost an hour. It made me very uneasy.
First, she denied the allegations that Guzman raked in money by servicing the transport needs of the municipal government during ex-mayor William A Lim’s time.
“Hindi po totoo yan ... totoo pong ipinagamit namin sa municipio ang aming bus pero nakarecord po sa munisipyo kung magkano ang rentang siningil namin ... nagpahiram din po kami ng unit na walang siningil na bayad ... eto ay bilang tulong namin sa munisipyo ...
“Hindi rin po totoong kumita kami ng P800,000 sa pagpapagamit ng aming bus sa municipio noong panahon ni Meyor Lim ...”
The allegation was that Guzman and Lim made it appear that the bus service to the public was for free, when in fact, Guzman collected an over charged bus hire “under the table” that amounted to P800,000 over nine years.
I told her that Guzman solicited two water pumps from Congressman Jojo Unico for use in the Parang beach cleanup but the donations just disappeared in thin air and the residents involved in the clean up along the beach told me they never saw or heard of them (pumps).
“Hindi po totoo yan... ang totoo, kami pa nga po ang namimigay ng mga water pumps ... kabilang po diyan ang mga jetmatic pumps na napunta sa mga baranggay.
She said Guzman did not have to approach Unico as CamNorte Governor Edgardo Tallado has always been ready to provide such assistance to his party mates in government.
“Noon pong bumagyo nang malakas ... hindi po kami nagdalawang isip na tulungan ang mga naapektuhang mga familya sa tabing dagat ... nang masunog po ang isang bahagi ng poblacion, tumulong po kaming mag-asawa sa pag-apula ng apoy.”
“Iyon pong mga taong inabutan ninyo dito sa tindahan kani-kanina lamang ay mga tao pong humihingi sa aking asawa ng tulong pinansyal, panggmot at iba pang pabor na sinisikap po naming maibigay.”
Another item: Nagtangka ho kayong ma-corner and digital ID card business sa high school at elementary school at ginamit ninyo ang inpluwensya in Konsehal (Guzman) … pero hindi ito natuloy.
Reacting to almost a jump, she said: “Ganito po yan …”
“Tutoo pong gusto naming magnegosyo ng digital ID cards sa eskwela at dahil dito ay nag-invest ho kami ng more than P100,000 sa ID making machine … nang maiset-up po namin ang business na ito, bigla hong nagdesisyon si Mayor Dong Padilla na gawing libre ang mga ID para sa mga bata.
“Ano naman po ang mangyayari sa aming capital …? Ipinaalam po namin ang pangyayari kay mayor at siya po ay humingi ng dispensa dahil hindi niya alam ang aming plano … pero nakiusap po naman kami na ibigay na sa amin ang negosyo para sa replacement ng mga nawalang ID at pumayag naman po siya..."
Mrs Guzman said the school ID was good for “life”, meaning the student will use the same ID until he/she graduated.
“Sa ngayon po, naghahanap po kami ng negosyo para sa aming ID machine sa mga kompanya sa Daet at mga schools para naman mabawi namin ang investment sa equipment na ito …”
I told her that Tallado gave the Mambulao-LP some P15,000 to fund the party’s post-election activities and coursed it through Guzman because he was Tallado’s “right hand man” for quite some time.
However, the money that reached Walim, who is the party head in Mambulao, amounted only P10,000.
Walim confronted Guzman about this, telling him that Tallado sent P15,000 as his assistance to the Mambulao LP.
From that time, animosity over money gradually hovered over them.
However, Mrs Guzman denied such incident ever happened.
“At hindi rin po totoong nag-aaway sila tungkol sa pera.”
Guzman, a re-electionist, is tipped to top the SB race in the next month’s local election, a welcome news that lightened up Mrs Guzman’s face.
“Salamat naman po at gusto pa siya ng mga tao ...”
Having clarified all the issues against her husband, she finally decided to resume working on my PhilHealth ID plastic lamination.
“Kinse lang po ...”
Our conversation officially ended when I picked up the P5 coin as change to my P20 bill.
Hailing a tricycle, I was continually amused by those tears that broke in her eyes.
More so with our chanced meeting that she said was orchestrated by a prayer.
She must be telling the truth.
William A Lim, vice-mayoral candidate (left) and Guzman during the night sortie at Purok 5, Baranggay Parang, recently ... together again after money squabble? - MWBuzzpic by AP HERNANDEZ