Speaker unveils 3-pronged approach to war claims

Speaker Tina Muna-Barnes and Gov. Lou Leon Guerrero are behind an initiative to provide local funding for war claims.

It appears that local leaders remain at odds – regarding their approach to finally getting war claims paid out, 75 years after World War II.

A joint effort by the Leon Guerrero-Tenorio Administration and local lawmakers has been launched through legislation expected out of Speaker Tina Muna-Barnes’ office — an effort from the local front that Congressman Michael San Nicolas said serves no clarity as to what is actually being proposed by the administration.

San Nicolas claims that Adelup’s proposal would only “pay 600 claimants, and we have 3,663 … over five times more claimants than Adelup is able to pay with the 6 to 7 million dollars they say is available.”

However, on Newstalk K57’s Your 4 Hour Phill, the Speaker shared the 3-pronged legislative approach that they are adopting.

First, in order to get the list of war reparations claimants, the Speaker says certain provisions may be necessary.

“We are maybe exploring a provision that requires one to submit a claims letter to GovGuam and maybe even sign a promissory note that says the adjudicated claim letter is legitimate and if the survivors were to get paid by the feds for the claim, that maybe GovGuam would pay us, that they will return the money to GovGuam if GovGuam pays them in advance,” Muna-Barnes said.

The second prong of the Speaker’s pending legislation would grant the governor transfer authority of whatever excess funding she finds and allowing her to re-appropriate said funds into a local claims fund, without infringing upon funds designated for healthcare, education and public safety.

“This would allow our Maga’haga to make a fiscally conscious decision to ensure that we pay off our survivors and not impact the essential government functions. And then the third prong, how that would work is we would authorize one of the local agencies to cut the checks to the survivors and you and I know that based on that, it would probably need the engagement of the Department of Administration and the Department of Revenue and Taxation,” the Speaker said.

To this, the congressman has the following response: “If Adelup wants to pay war claims on their own, we defer that decision to them. With no bill introduced by Adelup or the Legislature one week after their announcement, nothing in writing regarding Adelup’s plans from the Department of the Interior, the Treasury or the Claims Commission, and no clarity on what is actually being proposed by Adelup, the people are left only with anxiety and uncertainty.”