Bauang church bell rings to support town mayor
BAUANG, La Union – The century-old San Pedro bell infront of Bauang church bell rang once more, this time to show the church’s and the townspeople’s support for their beleaguered mayor, Eulogio Clarence Martin de Guzman who was included in President Duterte’s list of narco-politicians.
The bell was rang on Thursday morning after a mass celebrated by parish priest Raymund Chan and before some 2,000 residents clad in white held a unity walk around the town. They later converged at the town plaza for a rally with speakers professing de Guzman’s innocence on drugs.
Chan did not directly touch on the drug issue in his homily, but said while men suffer because of calamities, it does not mean that they are sinful.
The unity walk organizers were expecting only around 1,000 residents who would join the rally, but the number doubled, which showed that the people believed he was not involved in drugs, Cris Flores, a Knights of Columbus advocate.
The activity was organized by non-government organizations and was participated in by barangay officials, volunteer workers, students, and community residents.
Most of those interviewed by the Inquirer refused to condemn Duterte for including de Guzman in the list, but many of them were “confused” why their mayor was in the list
“He (Duterte) must have been misinformed about some of the officials included in the list,” Erlinda Espinas, a councilman of Paringao village, said.
Espinas said she had been a councilman for 18 years and she never heard of any reports or rumors about de Guzman being involved in illegal drugs.
She said when de Guzman first became a mayor in 1998, he launched the Bauang Ayaw sa Droga, a massive campaign against the illegal drug menace in the town.
“The campaign is continuous up to now,” she said.
De Guzman’s wife Menchie said she was in London with her daughter when she learned about the list through the social media.
“I did not know what to say, how to react. I wanted to think it was a nightmare and I wanted to wake up,” she said.
What was the most painful was when her daughter asked her if the report was true, and that she had to tell her that she knew their father better than his accusers.
Worse, her three sons were in Cebu to accompany the mayor in a triathlone race. Because of the report, the mayor no longer joined the race.
“I wished I could hug my sons, to comfort them and tell the report was not true. But they are very far from me,” she said.
De Guzman added that her family are one with President Duterte in the campaign against drug and that the mayor was “hurting” because of the accusations.
But she refused to comment if the President was fed wrong information, saying, “We hope the President will listen to us, for him to know that we are with him in the campaign against illegal drugs.We are praying that the truth will prevail.”
The rallysts carried placards expressing support for De Guzman, one of which reads: “We strongly believe you are innocent.” (YOLANDA SOTELO)
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