The ongoing local war claims processing at the recently opened War Claims Centers in the old Hakubotan building in Tamuning is not endorsed by the U.S. Treasury, according to Guam Delegate Michael San Nicolas.
“Please be advised that the governor's war claims processing center is issuing slips of paper to constituents they are unable to help, telling them to contact Congressman San Nicolas to expedite their war claim processing,” San Nicolas said in a press statement posed on Facebook.
He said the governor knows that Guam has no ability to expedite war claims processing. "It's actually pretty incredible that they are so willing to mislead the people in order to plow forward and save face, rather than just be honest and admit that their process didn’t include everyone," he said.
The Office of the Governor issued the following statement in response to San Nicolas’ remarks.
“The Congressman’s claim is untrue. It is true, however, that many of our manåmko’ missed the federal deadline to file a claim under the Guam World War II Loyalty Recognition Act,” said Carlo Branch, policy director.
Branch said reopening that window requires an act of Congress and survivors and their families have asked how to contact the Delegate’s office.
“The processing center is directing these constituents to contact the Delegate, as well as Speaker Tina Muña Barnes who is compiling a petition for this purpose. The ‘slips of paper’ referred to by the Delegate has both his and Speaker Muña Barnes’ contact information,” Branch said. “Whether or not we have a Congressman willing to reopen the War Claims window is a question no one can answer but him.”
Muña Barnes, meawhile, has initiated a petition drive requesting Congress to reopen the filing period for Guamanian survivors of World War II.
“As stipulated in the Guam World War II Loyalty Recognition Act, the filing period for Compensable Guam Victims to file a claim is one year after the date on which the Foreign Claims Settlement Commission publishes the notice of the opening of the file period,” she said.
“Many of our people have settled throughout the United States and news of the claim period missed many of our elders. This brief period is significantly shorter than other claims adjudicated by the Foreign Claims Settlement Commission which on average held their claims program open for a decade.”
See full story on war claims in the February 2020 issue of the Pacific Island Times print edition.