War reparations snag ‘frustrating;’ Wait ahead for approved claims ‘significant’

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Guam – It’s one of the deepest wounds for the Chamorro people: the pain and death suffered during the Japanese occupation of World War II.  Reparations were supposed to finally be paid soon, but the federal government claims that new legislation must be enacted before any checks are released.  Current delegate Mike San Nicolas says his predecessor is to blame.

It will take much longer to pay out war reparations.  That’s according to Congressman Mike San Nicolas, who called into Newstalk K-57 yesterday—revealing the latest stumbling block as a preview to a scheduled Facebook live event set for 7:30 a.m. Wednesday (local time).

“It will amount to a significant delay.  I’m not going to try—I don’t giving any kind of false impressions to people; it will,” Congressman San Nicolas said.  “And what we’re going to do is we’re going to move as quickly as possible on our end, and keep the people informed on the progress of the process as it’s moving along.  But yes, that’s unfortunately that is the case.”

But the news shouldn’t be a surprise to everyone.  San Nicolas claims his predecessor Madeleine Bordallo and her office were informed of the problem and needed solution by the federal government since May of last year.

“The previous office was notified of the deficiencies in the existing war claims law that would make it unable for treasury to actually cut the checks,” he stressed.  “Since May (2018), and again this is all information that we are just gleaning from from various sources out here because we were not—we weren’t given the actual information.  But what we’re gathering is that there were several legislative attempts to fix this but they didn’t happen. So where we are now is trying to figure out, once again, what the bottom line problem is—and Treasury is working with us to get the language together, and then we gotta figure out the necessary legislative channels to put that language through.”

Attorney Mauricio Tamargo, who represents claimants for reparations, has been making attempts to find out the payment process from the Treasury.  Today on Mornings with Patti, he said the explanation offered by San Nicolas helps him understand why officials were mum on the matter.

“They claim they don’t have authority without an appropriation to do that.  I find that so frustrating,” Attorney Tamargo said. “The legislation was drafted by legislative counsel.  How could they not have made plans for everything that needed to be in the bill to be in the bill?”

The Guam World War II Loyalty Recognition Act purportedly created a pathway and identified a funding source to finally pay reparations to those who suffered and died during the Japanese occupation of the island from 1941 to 1944.  The statute was enacted while Congresswoman Madeleine Bordallo was in office. A search of K-57 news files don’t show an instance when Bordallo disclosed the delay while she was seeking re-election last year. Attempts to reach the former delegate, who is now Governor Leon Guerrero’s liaison in Washington, D.C. have been unsuccessful so far.