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'No secret lobbying on Eagles Field'

Updated: Jul 18, 2023

Navy property lease abandoned but political tension over the contentious site continues

By Mar-Vic Cagurangan

Eagles Field is out of the picture, Gov. Lou Leon Guerrero said, reiterating her decision to drop her consideration of the Navy property as the site for a new hospital following the expiration of the unsigned lease.

There is no behind-the-curtain negotiation to revive the dead lease, the governor said, dousing Speaker Therese Terlaje's suspicion.

The speaker earlier suggested there were "some very high-level discussions and lobbying going on in Washington D.C. regarding land on Guam— behind our backs, and apparently without any knowledge of our congressman."

“I was shocked to see that the Senate Armed Services Committee version of the NDAA included very detailed provisions regarding Eagles Field (Lålo) land (referred to by the Senate as 'transmitter site') and an express provision that Eagles Field property shall not be deemed excess, contradicting earlier promise and action by the Secretary of the Navy. Several concerns struck me immediately," Terlaje said.

Terlaje said there was no announcement from the governor nor the Office of the Guam delegate regarding their "lobbying efforts."

"If Guam has such a high level, effective lobbying power, Congress should have included a provision expressly affirming that excess federal land returned to the government of Guam may be transferred to the Guam Ancestral Lands Commission to meet the public purpose of rectifying the injustice done by military land takings years ago," Terlaje said.

Saying the administration "is certainly not involved in any secret lobbying efforts," the governor urged Terlaje "to share any information she may have of these supposed lobbying efforts that are happening in secret in D.C."

In response, Del. James Moylan explained that the inclusion of the now abandoned lease in the draft of the Senate’s version of the defense spending policy bill was the result of oversight and delays in the legislative process.

“Please note that the request was not due to a high-power lobbying effort or any conspiracy theory but was forwarded by the Navy because at the time it was being drafted, there was an active conversation ongoing,” Moylan told Terlaje in a letter. “The professional staff of these committees needs to dot their ‘i’s and cross their ‘t’s,” and there was also no conversation from the Navy forcing us to change our minds.”

Since Guam does not have a seat in the Senate, Moylan said his office does not get courtesy updates on insertions that include Guam from the Senate Armed Services Committee.

“Because we were already informed that Gov. Lou Leon Guerrero’s administration was no longer pursuing the Eagles Field lease, we advised them that the issue was not a priority of our office. Therefore, the language did not make the final version of the House bill,” Moylan said.

Moylan said Terlaje could have written or called him for verification “prior to creating insinuations.”

The 99-year lease negotiated by Leon Guerrero with the Joint Region Marianas expired in April without being executed due to Attorney General Douglas Moylan's refusal to sign it, citing legal challenges in the proposed agreement.


The governor and Guam senators also clashed over the legislature's demand for a lease review and legislative involvement in the process.

On the sidelines stood the Guam doctors, who opposed the location of a new medical complex, maintaining that the hospital site should logically stay in Tamuning, where most doctors’ clinics are located.

The $1 billion hospital project originally planned to be built on a 102-acre Navy property has thus hit a snag.

"In an effort to move forward with the utmost expediency, and anticipating the Guam legislature's continued objection to a lease of the Eagles Field property for use as the site of a new medical complex, I have decided to proceed in exploring other potential properties," the governor said in a July 3 letter to U.S. Secretary of the Navy Carlos Del Toro.

Since the execution period lapsed, the governor said, she has moved on to explore other options.

"Though I sincerely believe that the Eagles Field lease would have provided a substantial benefit to the people of Guam, for the reasons discussed herein, regrettably, it is necessary to focus our resources and efforts toward identifying another option for the site for the new medical complex, to ensure the expedient construction of a new hospital," the governor stated in her letter to Del Toro.

Now that the hospital project is out of the equation, the Navy will use Eagles Field for defense purposes.

"Now, the speaker is claiming to be shocked that the military will not consider the land excess property and 'shocked' it will be used for national defense," the governor said. "Her supposed 'shock' makes no sense considering that Gov. Leon Guerrero has maintained this from the start."

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