Guam Republicans: end public health emergency
By Pacific Island Times News Staff
It has been two years since Gov. Lou Leon Guerrero first declared Guam under public health emergency following the detection of the first set of Covid-19 cases on island.
Two years is long enough, according to Republican senators, who introduced a resolution today that would end the governor's public health emergency.
"The public health emergency provides the governor of Guam unprecedented authority with bypassing laws associated with procurement and hiring, of which has led to many questions, inclusive of those involving transparency," the senators said.
The resolution was introduced by Sen. Chris Dueñas along with co-sponsors Sens. James Moylan, Tony Ada, Frank Blas Jr., Joanne Brown and Telo Taitague.
The Republicans noted that with millions in federal dollars sitting in the government’s bank, it is critical that this declaration is lifted to provide for greater checks and balances.
The Republican senators also noted that the governor's numerous executive orders "infringe on personal freedoms, adversely affect local businesses, and allow for unchecked government spending and hiring."
The government of Guam has caught unprecented windfall from the federal government's Covid-relief assistance programs in the past two years. The governor has been at odds with the legislature over the funds' management and disbursements, claiming exclusive spending authority over the Covid money.
Last week, Leon Guerrero rescinded the vaccine mandate for executive employees and lifted the limit on social gatherings indoor. Two weeks ago, she recalled the mandate requiring proof of vaccination to enter restaurants and other places covered by the directive.
"Gov. Lou Leon Guerrero recently cited the manageable number of Covid-19 hospital admissions and the availability of vaccines, boosters and treatments, as she signed an executive order lifting additional restrictions late last week," the Republican senators said.
“We are starting to turn the Covid corner,” they added, quoting the governor's video message last week.
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"If the emergency declaration is lifted, nothing prevents the governor of Guam from declaring another emergency based on specific concerns, such as needing the authority for certain compensation, or emergency procurement for needed supplies.," the senators said.
They also said ending public health emergency would not preclude the governor from working with the legislature on establishing other statutes associated with public health.
“Thank you to former Senator Bob Klitzkie for providing the initial framework for this resolution and Guam Freedom Coalition for acquiring the support to get this introduced," Duenas said . "I’d also like to thank all the cosponsors and pray that the rest of our colleagues in the 36th support ending this Public Health Emergency that has gone on far too long."