Senators, Guam Delegate react to passage of local war claims bill

Senator Telo Taitague (PNC file photo)

Following the voting at the legislature this afternoon, a number of senators rose to state their objections to the way the revised version of Bill 181 was placed in the voting file without debate, leaving many questions about it unanswered.

Senator Mary Torres said it is the legislature’s duty to deliberate and ask questions, but many questions remain about how the war claims bill is going to be administered.

Senator Telo Taitague said transparency was not adhered to in the passage of Bill 181 and she asked whether senators put politics before the best interest of the people of Guam.

And Senator Therese Terlaje said it seems obvious to her that the war claims debate this year turned into a political battle between the congressman, the governor and the legislative leadership.

Both Speaker Tina Muna Barnes and Congressman San Nicolas issued the following statements.

Speaker Barnes statement in FULL:

“After being misled by false promises, after months of delay, I am blessed to be a part of a
dynamic body of legislators that is finally able to fulfil our commitment to our greatest

This started out as a conversation in passing with Mr. Phil Flores, then through the unwavering support of my co-sponsors, Legislative Secretary Amanda L. Shelton as well as
Minority Leader Wil Castro – I am grateful we got this through!

I have received the commitment of our Maga’håga that she is awaiting to sign this measure
into law. While we overcame a major obstacle by passing this bill, I hope that the Executive
Branch of Government expeditiously begin working with the Trump Administration to sign the Memorandum of Understanding so that we can begin the process to pay our survivors what is due to them.

To the families who lost a loved one over the last few months while waiting for their
reparations, I sincerely wished we ALL prioritized this bill – for that I apologize.”

Congressman Michael San Nicolas’ statement in FULL:

“I find it very ironic that the same senators who refuse to introduce a resolution supporting an Organic Act amendment to deposit tax refunds are also so quick to abdicate the entire local war claims process to an MOU with the Treasury.

Technically the Treasury can demand anything now as a condition on the MOU, it has no negotiating parameters.

In other words, Treasury can demand anything in order for even local checks to be cut.

Hopefully they don’t, but the irony in now surrendering the terms and conditions of local war claims to federal control now is astonishingly hypocritical.”

San Nicolas’ own war claims bill has not yet passed in the U.S. Senate.

Congress has adjourned for the Christmas holidays until January 3.