Senators zero in on Hakubotan lease controversy

The Hakubotan building in Tamuning. (PNC file photo)

At least two lawmakers are pushing for a more thorough probe of the controversial lease of the Hakubotan building recently reported by the Office of Public Accountability.

Senator Sabina Perez, the legislature’s oversight chair for procurement, said she intends to conduct an oversight hearing to address the facts being presented to the public.

“The decision to debar a business from consideration of an award for a government procurement contract should not be taken lightly. While this case raises questions about authority, the focal point of this issue is that an ethical standard violation was made,” Perez said.

She added that procurement laws and proper training are intended to protect government funds in the interest of the people of Guam, and if the law creates confusion, then amendments must be made to provide clarity.

“With everything, we must strive to work collaboratively to make the necessary changes and create greater understanding about government processes,” Perez said.

Senator Telo Taitague is also pushing for an oversight hearing to get to the bottom of the Hakubotan controversy.

The OPA decision involves questions related to SH Enterprises donating office space to the Government of Guam for war claims processing, two months after the company received an elderly meal services contract and a few weeks before it was awarded a contract to provide meals at the Department of Corrections.

“I urge the Committee to take quick action in the coming days to help ensure that allegations of unethical conduct on the part of those entrusted with procurement authority, including private entities authorized to provide goods and services to the Government of Guam, are appropriately scrutinized,” Taitague said.

Furthermore, Taitague said it appears that the OPA does not believe adequate safeguards are in place to prevent special interests from influencing government procurement processes.

“Perhaps an oversight hearing may result in amendments to the procurement statute – including language clarifying or strengthening the OPA’s authority to hold accountable those government officials and private entities who engage in questionable actions,” Taitague stated.


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