By Mar-Vic Cagurangan
Leon Guerrero vows to veto 'separation of powers' bill: 'I refuse to play games'
Gov. Lou Leon Guerrero vowed to veto the contentious Bill 11-36, which senators narrowly passed on Monday.
"There is 'fair game' and there is 'playing games,' and I refuse to play games at the expense of people’s lives," the governor said in a statement following the passage of the bill authored by Republican Sen. Chris Duenas.
Lawmakers voted 8-7 to pass Bill 11-36 titled "Restoration of Separation of Powers Act," which would require a legislative approval for any extension of a public health emergency.
The bill, however, is at risk of hitting a dead end unless its proponents can muster more support for the proposed measure. It requires 10 votes to override the governor's veto.
"Our progress against Covid-19 didn't come by accident. It happened because we had the tools to act quickly, save lives, and build on the shared sacrifice of this community—something Bill 11-36 would endanger. That is why I will be vetoing it," the governor said.
Dismissing the Republicans' claim that the bill intends to keep the check and balances, Leon Guerrero said the proposals was a product of partisan politics.
"At any point, Republicans in the Legislature could have introduced a resolution to cancel the public health emergency or force hearings on its renewal. They did not—and that says something," she said.
Guam's public health emergency has been extended at least 10 times since it was declared in March last year after the first three Covid-19 cases were reported.
The governor said last week public health emergency status secures federal assistance for Guam.
But Duenas argued that the government of Guam needs to strike a balance between the community’s safety and the island’s economic recovery.
Guam transitioned to Pandemic Condition of Readiness 3 on Monday, allowing more businesses to resume operations under moderate restrictions.
Under the Guam Department of Public Health and Social Services revised guidelines, businesses that primarily supply other businesses with the support or supplies necessary to operate, hardware stores and retail stores may operate at 75 percent capacity. All other authorized businesses and services are allowed to operate at 50 percent occupancy.
Bars and taverns will be allowed to reopen on Wednesday.
To date, there have been a total of 7,727 officially reported cases of Covid-19 with 130 deaths, 53 cases in active isolation, and 7,554 not in active isolation.