By Mar-Vic Cagurangan
Senator's call for AG to take action on illegal hotel deals swept under the rug?
Sen. Frank Blas Jr. expressed his frustration over Attorney General Leevin Camacho’s failure to take legal action on the administration’s sole-source procurement of hotel services questioned by the Office Public Accountability.
“I think it will be a sad day for Guam if I have to take this to court myself when we are relying on the AG to respond to the concerns raised by the OPA,” Blas said. “I shouldn’t be doing the attorney general’s job.”
An audit released by the OPA in July found that the administration violated the procurement law when it commissioned the services of certain hotels that had been used as Covid-19 quarantine and isolation facilities.
During an informational hearing at the legislature in June, Sen. Sabina Perez shared a report showing that $7 million had been awarded through sole-source procurement in fiscal 2020, and $18.5 had been awarded through emergency procurements.
According to OPA, the governor’s office lacked the authority to procure quarantine and isolation facilities. The audit report also cited an incomplete procurement record.
OPA also said the then governor’s legal counsel and son-in-law, Haig Huynh, had a conflict of interest with one of the awarded facilities.
On Friday, Blas wrote his third letter to Camacho, reiterating his call for legal action on the OPA’s audit.
“I pray that the AG acts on the request and does not think that by just ignoring it, the matter will fade away,” Blas said.
“If the public auditor, with the confidence and expertise he has in his office, combined with his legal and legislative experience, believes that there were deficiencies in the procurement process, then I believe as well that legal action should be taken.”
Blas first sent a request for investigation to the attorney general on July 26. He sent a follow-up request on Aug. 11. The senator said he has not heard back from the OAG since he received an acknowledgment of receipt of his first letter.
“It’s been over a month and we’re still waiting for a response,” Blas said. “For the AG to turn a blind eye to this eye to this is not right. I really do not want to characterize him in that fashion but what am I left to think?”
The Pacific Island Times' request for comment from OAG through email was not answered.
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“I don’t see nor have I been informed of any reason why action cannot or has not been initiated,” Blas said. “If a conflict of interest exists as a result of a relationship that he may have with anyone involved, he can appoint a special prosecutor to handle this case.”
Blas said the OAG has had enough time to decide what action needs to be taken on the case.
“The people of Guam deserve to know what that will be,” the senator said.
Blas said he is considering a proposal to expand the authority of the OPA to include the power to prosecute officials who may be in violation of Guam’s procurement law.