Longstanding issues at CQA inherited by new administration

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Guam – Funding, or rather the lack thereof has always been an unfortunate feature for various agencies throughout GovGuam, however does it become oppression when the governing administration plays a direct role in hindering operations for example, by holding an agency hostage to lease payments and denying a solution proposed to alleviate the costly expense?

Well, that appears to be the story of the Guam Customs and Quarantine Agency under the previous administration, as former CQA Director Jim McDonald painted the picture on Newstalk K57 with Andrea Pellacani.

It seems that this is not the first time CQA has asked for land parcels to be dedicated to the construction of a secured inspection area, as McDonald reveals a request he made for a piece of land near Tiyan High, EPA and the K9 Unit facility, a request denied because of what McDonald says, was to keep CQA a prisoner to lease payments to the airport.

The former Director adds that the financial responsibilities that CQA has been forced to take on, which McDonald suggest, may even be the most costly lease payments made by GovGuam, plays a factor in why the agency continues to struggle financially. However, hope is not lost.

McDonald says, “I had a meeting last week with the acting director Ike Peredo and the Chief and I said guys, take that memo that was denied during my watch and resubmit that to the airport because you still need that parcel of land over there.”

The vitality of a secured and sterile, inspections and holding cargo facility for CQA, adequately manned 24’7, continues to be reiterated by McDonald, “you need a 24’7 operation at the air cargo, you need that down at the port so that we can help protect, you know, our borders and especially our people… I mean a good example is the customs warehouse in Tiyan. Just a few months ago they burglarized the place. I mean that’s unacceptable.”

Hence the need for more resources and manpower for CQA, says McDonald. However, there was a measure proposed to the airport in order to combat the agency’s struggling finances, an increase in passenger fees, revenue of which would go to CQA operations. A measure, that never took off.

“We have all the justifications to you know push this issue, but what happened at that time was of course Adelup would say nope, you are, you know, we are not gonna allow you guys to raise the rates and so they told the airport to deny us thee change off fees.”

With hindrances instigated by the Calvo-Tenorio administration, McDonald cautions, “You know Chief Scambulure even mentioned it last week on the radio that we’ve been warned too many times by the federal government that if, because 990% of regs that we are enforcing are not local they are federal regs and if we don’t get our act together, you know by giving customs the resource, one of these days you’re gonna see US CBP take over from upstairs…and like they said, Mr. McDonald, it’s just a matter of time.”

Butting heads with the previous administration has attributed to the longstanding struggles CQA has dealt with, now inherited by the new administration says McDonald, making the need to beef up our borders sooner rather than later.

The revelations made by McDonald, resonate at the port of Guam as well however, he shared his optimism in new management, from the Leon Guerrero-Tenorio Administration, to the new airport GM Tom Ada, and the newly appointed Acting Director of Customs and Quarantine Ike Peredo, believing in their abilities to ensure the security of our borders and the safety of our people.