Guam – The Legislature held a brief session Friday in preparation for a State Funeral next Wednesday for the late Maria Sablan Leon Guerrero. Leon Guerrero was an Assistant Commissioner of the Village of Tamuning.
Who and how is it decided who gets a State Funeral?
“Normally it would be decided by the members some by law of course and then the others would be by the committee on rules and this is a former elected official so it is decided then that there would be a state funeral,” said Speaker Judi Won Pat.
According to Guam law anyone who has served as a Senator, Governor, Lt. Governor, Judge, or non-voting delegate to Washington is automatically entitled to a State Funeral.
If the deceased doesn’t fall into any of those categories, then the Legislature’s Committee on Rules decides who is deserving of the honor.
Gov Guam has already established a long-time tradition of offering State Funerals to all elected officials including Mayors and Vice-Mayors.
So how much does one cost? Speaker Won Pat says it used to cost a lot.
“I’ve heard some of up to the tune of 15 thousand and at least that’s the one I’ve heard and so at times like this when you really don’t have the finances we’ve gone back to the true definition of what we really consider a state funeral,” she explained.
But she says that recently the legislature has worked hard to reduce the costs of State Funerals only providing what is really necessary for the Government to provide.
Since the Speaker took Office they have made it a practice to provide for invitations, booklets, an ad in the news paper, an official state wreath, a Guam flag, and some light refreshments after the funeral.
In previous years State Funerals would cost around an average of $8 to $9 thousand dollars. Some even including payments for burials and caskets. So how much will this one cost? “Probably i would say maybe hopefully not more than like $2 thousand dollars by the time we do the invitations the booklets the flowers the light refreshments,” said Speaker Won Pat.
This is thousands less than what state funerals used to cost the government of Guam. State funerals can also be held for non-elected officials if the legislature’s committee on rules determines that the citizen has displayed exemplary service for the island and the people of Guam if the family of the deceased agrees.