Senators Telo Taitague and Frank Blas, Jr. on Wednesday introduced Bill 129 creating the Government of Guam World War II Survivor Claims Review Commission (Commission) to adjudicate war claims requests that did not meet the federally imposed June 20, 2018 filing deadline established pursuant to the Guam World War II Loyalty Recognition Act.
Members of the Commission include public officials (or their designees) namely the Public Auditor of Guam, the Governor of Guam, Speaker of I Liheslaturan Guåhan, President of the Mayors Council of Guam, and a member of the general public appointed by the Governor of Guam.
The Commission will have two years from the enactment of Bill 129 to accept, adjudicate, and issue awards to Compensable Victims or Survivors of Compensable Guam Descendants.
According to Guam Legislature Resolution 54-36 (COR), more than 700 survivors of Guam’s wartime occupation and their descendants have signed a petition since June of 2018 urging Congress to remove the June 20, 2018 deadline to file their claim, by amending the Guam World War II Loyalty Recognition Act.
If approved, Bill 129 appropriates no less than $6.4 million from Section 30 funds for war claims during Fiscal Year 2022 and FY 2023. This is the same funding source the U.S. Congress identified for war claims that are approved by the Foreign Claims Settlement Commission of the United States, which is the entity responsible for adjudicating war claims submitted in accordance to the Guam World War II Loyalty Recognition Act.
“Bill 129 proposes a solution at the local government level to assist war survivors and descendants of survivors who did not submit their applications to the Foreign Claims Settlement Commission on or before the June 20, 2018 deadline. While many others were able to submit their information, we must be understanding and compassionate to those who for reasons they alone can explain did not meet the federally imposed deadline. Whether it was due to a lack of information on the issue or time to compile their personal records – or because they weren’t emotionally prepared to relive the pain and suffering endured during World War II – Bill 129 intends to honor and bring peace and closure to our greatest generation,” Senator Taitague stated.
“Bill 129 provides the opportunity to the survivors who missed the federal deadline to have their claims reviewed and adjudicated. Since we have been forced to use the Section 30 funds to pay for claims, we want to make sure that the money that was set aside is used to appropriately compensate our survivors who would have been made whole had they not missed the June 2018 deadline,” commented Senator Blas, Jr.
(Senator Telo Taitague Release)