Guam – The PNC News “Top 10 Stories of 2013” includes the rise in crime, the gaming machine controversy, the deployment of nearly 600 Guam Guard members to Afghanistan and the Tumon Tragedy of last February that claimed the lives of 3 Japanese tourists.
Tune in tonight to ABC 7 at 6pm for the “PNC News 2013 Year in Review”.
Top 10 Stories of 2013: #10 – #6
The PNC News TOP 10 Stories of 2013 #10-#6:
10. Guahan Academy Charter School – Our 10th most followed story of 2013 starts with the opening of Guam’s first charter school, the Guahan Academy Charter School. The school welcomed 524 students in its first week of operation in August. But its launch did not go off without a hitch. Months before the charter school’s scheduled opening, concerns were raised over where they would be located and whether a lease had been approved. Then in mere days before the first day of school, public health officials deemed the Tiyan Core-tech campus wasn’t ready yet, delaying the first day of learning for most students by another week.
9. Tourism Rebound – Next is our 9th top story of the year with the island’s number one economy driver—tourism. 2013 marked the Guam Visitors Bureau’s 50th anniversary and what a better way to celebrate than to hit record breaking numbers for the first time in decades.
8. Gaming Machines – Gambling devices fills our 8th spot with the controversial legalization and licensure of the Liberty machines. The machines’ legality was fiercely debated between the Governor’s Office, the Attorney General’s Office and Keep Guam Good, an anti-gambling group. But it was a Bill that would ultimately bring that battle to an end. Bill 19 sought to permit the machines but allocated its revenues to the Guam Memorial Hospital—a proposal that was undoubtedly hard to refuse given the hospital’s financial woes. The taxes collected from the gaming devices were earmarked for GMH to build an urgent care center and pay off a portion of its debt.
7. Federal Sequestration – Our top 7th story of the year is on Federal Sequestration—a threat that affected not just Guam, but the whole nation as well. 2,000 Department of Defense employees on Guam were facing possible furloughs by July, but it turns out cost saving measures help to reduce the number of furlough days.
6. Guam Guard Deployment – The top 6th story of the year was one that concerned many military families on Guam with the largest deployment of soldiers of the Guam National Guard to Afghanistan that was scheduled for a whole year. The island suffered 2 casualties in that deployment with the deaths of Specialist Dwayne Flores and Sgt. Eugene Aguon, both of whom were killed in the same car bombing attack on May 16th. The good news now is that the 600 soldiers are coming home earlier than expected. As of last Thursday all remaining Task Force Guam soldiers departed Afghanistan and made their way to Camp Shelby Mississippi for demobilization. 38
Top 10 Stories of 2013: #5 – #1
The PNC News TOP 10 Stories of 2013 #5 – #1:
5. GPD Appeals for Help to Fight Crime – After a spate of crimes ranging from thefts to robberies, our number 5 story happened in October when the Guam Police Department openly called on the government and community for help. They had seen enough. Senior Guam Police Department officers emphasized the need for more police cars, more officers and more cooperation. At a news conference, Acting Police Chief Col. Maurice Sayama announced several more notable arrests had been made.
4. GMA Medical Mission to the Philippines – Our 4th spot is on PNC’s coverage of Guam’s Medical Mission to the Philippines. The focus of the mission was to help Supertyphoon Haiyan’s victims recover through basic medical attention. But while there, what we found was a lifetime of struggle worsened by a once in a lifetime disaster. Many of the residents had been harboring life-long illnesses that had never been treated because of the underlying and overwhelming poverty.
3. Cepeda and Bernstein Murders – In our number 3 spot are two of Guam’s most notable murders. Emma Cepeda and Shelly Bernstein. Notable perhaps because their own family members were accused in the crimes. In Bernstein’s case, her son, Alan Agababa, police say, plotted her death for insurance benefits. In Cepeda’s case, her estranged husband Emmanuel Cepeda allegedly shot her at her home, turned the gun on himself but, according to police, claims the gun jammed. He pleaded not guilty by reason of mental illness.
2. The “Blue House” Trial – Our number 2 spot does not involve any murders, but it’s a high profile case that took 5 years to build and led to the disgraceful downfall of several police officers. The notorious Blue House trial. Nick named Blue House after the name of the lounge where the underground brothel was operated. Former cops David Manila, Anthony Quenga and Mario Laxamana were named. Laxamana took a plea deal and testified against his former colleagues. And after a four week trial where 9 female victims testified about the violent rapes at the hands of the two officers, Manila and Quenga were found guilty of all charges ranging from kidnapping to prostitution to criminal sexual conduct.
1. The February 12th Tumon Tragedy – And our top story of the year was one that had far-reaching consequences and made national headlines. The February 12 Tumon Tragedy that left 3 tourists dead and 11 others injured. And the man accused of going on the violent car and knife rampage … 22-year-old Chad Ryan DeSoto. According to police, he drove his car through the Plaza sidewalk running over several passersby, slammed it into the ABC Store, then jumped out in rage stabbing people at random. He has pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity.