Session to tackle local war claims bill

Vice Speaker Tina Muna Barnes (Guam Legislature photo)

Guam lawmakers go back into session tomorrow to consider one bill — Speaker Tina Muna Barnes’ local war reparations bill.

Bill 181-35 proposes to use local funds to pay reparations to more than 700 war survivors whose claims have already been adjudicated by the Justice Department’s Foreign Claims Settlement Commission.

The source of funding has not yet been identified.

Guam Delegate Michael San Nicolas has urged lawmakers to postpone the vote until the U.S. Senate acts on his measure, H.R. 1365.

However, Gov. Lou Leon Guerrero today told reporters she hopes the local war reparations bill is passed and she intends to sign it.

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“I’ve asked the Speaker to just vote on it and let’s move on. I will sign it into law. Because it doesn’t really negatively impact the San Nicolas measure. It, in my mind, complements it. It just starts the ball rolling and we can give our manamko their war reparations quickly,” the governor said.

GOP National Committeeman Juan Carlos Benitez, who has lobbied for passage of the San Nicolas bill, is confident the Senate will pass it very soon.

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“I do not feel it will NOT pass. I am convinced it will make it through the Senate. Once it does that, it needs to be ratified by the House so it’ll be a vote in the House and then it gets to the president,” Benitez said.

If signed by President Trump, Benitez expects that payments to war survivors from Guam’s Section 30 funds should begin sometime in the first quarter of next year.