By Pacific Island Times News Staff
The Department of the Navy has sent a revised lease for the Eagles Field property to address the Office of the Attorney General’s concerns raised in its March 31 legal opinion, the office of the Guam governor announced Wednesday.
Based on the new lease, the administration will use federal money, instead of local funds, to build the proposed medical campus on the Navy-owned property in Mangilao.
In his legal opinion, Attorney General Douglas Moylan questioned the validity of the original lease agreement, which skipped legislative review. Any land transaction involving the appropriation of public funds must go through the legislative process, he said.
"To address the OAG’s concerns relative to legislative appropriations, Gov. Lou Leon Guerrero will use $10.6 million in American Rescue Plan Act funds, which do not require legislative appropriations, to pay for all monetary considerations under the lease. Additionally, the lease eliminates the potential recovery of monetary damages in the event of a default." reads the statement from the governor's office.
The governor's office made the announcement following Tuesday's legislative public hearing snubbed by Gov. Lou Leon Guerrero.
“It is unfortunate that the governor and lt. governor, who is the acting governor at this time, did not accept this good faith attempt by the Legislature, to address the non-compliance of the medical campus lease with local and federal laws," said Speaker Therese Terlaje, chair of the committee on health, land, justice and culture.
Terlaje called the hearing in an attempt to sort out the concerns raised by Attorney General Douglas Moylan, who cited several legal flaws in the lease for the Navy-owned Mangilao property where Leon Guerrero is proposing to build a new medical campus.
Another sticking point in the original lease was the provision that would allow the Department of the Navy to use the civilian hospital for military personnel.
"To address concerns regarding the provision allowing the federal government to use the medical facility during war or national emergencies, the new terms clarify that only the President of the United States can declare a national emergency, and whatever powers the president currently has during a national emergency over all hospitals will also apply to this hospital," the governor's office said.
Administration officials said the lease does not confer any new rights on the federal government that are not already provided in federal law.
"This lease will allow the government of Guam to build a medical campus in a central location that is minutes away from major population centers and closer to many southern residents who currently must go to Tamuning or Dededo for emergency care," Adelup said.
Terlaje said the legislature remains in the dark as it still has no access to the full terms of the lease for federal land.
"For these reasons, I will continue to pursue the override of Bill 12-37. I hope that my colleagues that voted against the override of the bill will now understand why it is so important," the speaker said.
"Bill 12 intends to address this issue, to maintain consistency in local policies related to the purchase, lease, sublease and license of real property on Guam, and ensure transparency when the government of Guam purchases land, or enters into a lease, license, or sub-lease of property owned by the federal government, foreign governments or sub-entities thereof," she added.
She noted that the burden will be on the people of Guam to build and finance the hospital when elected officials eventually leave office.
In Adelup, the governor’s legal team provided a copy of the OAG’s opinion to the Department of the Navy and discussed possible revisions to the initial draft lease addressing the concerns of the OAG.