Guam senators OK implementation plans for local war claims program

By Pacific Island Times News Staff

Senators today approved Sen. Telo Taitague's amendment to Bill 130, the local war claims legislation, for the development of an implementation plan, was approved by a majority of senators.

"The amendment ensures that the implementation plan required by Bill 130 incorporates the establishment of a committee to adjudicate through a formal application process, war claims compensation requests from individuals who were eligible to apply for compensation pursuant to federal law, but were unable to submit required documents to the Foreign Claims Settlement Commission of the U.S. on or before June 20, 2018," Taitague said.

All rules and regulations and decisions that are put together by the adjudication committee shall be consistent with program guidance and award limits that have already been established by federal law with respect to war claims.

Additionally, the director of Department Administration will be required to keep the legislature informed on the number of applications that are submitted, adjudicated, and settled – and regarding all payments made pursuant to Bill 130.

Consistent with language that was approved in the previous legislature to expedite war claims using local revenues, the amendment provides that information concerning the identity of war survivors and their application for war claims shall be protected and shall not be part of the public record.

“Because Bill 130 did not include any guidance for the administration to develop a local war claims program, the amendment I offered – which reflects the program that’s proposed in my Bill 129 – provides a framework to get things moving without political considerations. Notwithstanding the issues that I had with the bill as drafted including the facts behind its introduction, I put forward the amendment because I believe the legislature must do everything in its power to right a wrong, and to always put people before politics," Taitague said.

"As I’ve shared before, whether it was due to having little to no information available about the application process or the time needed to put together their application and other documents – or because they weren’t emotionally prepared to relive the painful days of World War II on Guam which turned into months and years of darkness for them and their families – it is my prayer that the improved Bill 130 will help bring peace and closure to our greatest generation," she added.