Governor: Entire erroneous war claims law has to be repealed

Governor Lou Leon Guerrero (PNC file photo)

Governor Lou Leon Guerrero said Wednesday morning that the entire erroneous war claims law would have to be repealed in order to prevent any confusion or legal complications.

On Monday, Speaker Therese Terlaje introduced new legislation to correct the error contained in Bill 130-36.

Bill 217-36 is essentially a copy of Bill 130-36, just without the erroneous provision.

But the governor said it’s not as simple as taking out the erroneous amendment.

“What the Speaker should have done is taken the law that’s already been passed and then repeal and re-enact to take that amendment out,” Leon Guerrero said in an interview with NewsTalk K57’s Patti Arroyo.

She added: “It’s not going to be as easy as just replacing the bill. The law has to be repealed because there’s a conflict if there are two competing laws. Which one do you follow?”

Leon Guerrero pointed out that she was the first governor in decades to have paid war reparations.

“We were very innovative. We worked very closely with the Speaker at that time, Speaker Tina Muna Barnes, to come up with legislation and also worked very closely with the US Treasury to make sure that they are able to access the money that has already passed through Congress to pay for the war reparations,” she said.

Unfortunately, the governor said that when they started the program, it was found out that there were many survivors who had already applied, but they applied through the office of Senator Frank Aguon Jr. and they thought that would be enough.

“They didn’t know that there was another required deadline. There are maybe 700 who have missed the deadline. So the purpose of this bill was to address that. Not to open it up and expand it to everybody. If that’s the case, then there has to be a new piece of legislation moving forward, with a public hearing, and so forth. Because it’s like what Senator Joe San Agustin said. I agree with him, that it’s a totally new piece of legislation that needs to go through the normal process of public hearing and debate on the floor and so forth. And one bill doesn’t naturally supersede the other,” the governor said.

Meanwhile, Speaker Terlaje is pushing through with her new war claims legislation. The Legislature has recessed until Monday, Nov. 1, at 1 pm to reconvene regarding Bill 217-36.

In a statement released Monday afternoon, the Speaker said: “Our manåmko’ have traveled the long, hard road to achieve justice and recognition for their suffering during the Japanese occupation. Their sacrifice demands our genuine effort and support. I have willingly put my name on this corrective measure when nobody else would, simply because it’s the right thing to do for our war survivors. And while I still believe there is much more work to be done to achieve true justice for them, this is one step.”