Speaker hits 'unilateral action' on the lease of Mangilao property earmarked for new Guam hospital
By Mar-Vic Cagurangan
Speaker Therese Terlaje lambasted the administration for negotiating a property lease with the military without seeking public input.
"My understanding is that the lease will obligate the government of Guam for in-kind hospital services to military personnel and their families in exchange for GovGuam use of 120+ acres of the Lålo/Eagles Field land," Terlaje said.
The property in question, located in Mangilao, is the proposed site of a new medical campus, the governor's centerpiece project.
"It is also unclear if the civilian residents of Guam will be the priority of this hospital should it be full, and without a copy of the lease, we can only guess who the priority in this hospital will be if it’s full," she added.
Terlaje said she learned that Gov. Lou Leon Guerero and Navy Rear Adm. Benjamin Nicholson met with Sens. Joe San Agustin, William Parkinson, Dwayne San Nicolas, Roy Quinata and others yesterday to inform them that the military will deliver the proposed lease at 3 p.m. today for the governor’s signature.
"What is most egregious is the intentional timing of a lease on the day of the Governor’s State of the Island Address, while a bill that was passed unanimously is sitting on her desk, which simply asks the governor to vet any potential lease with the legislature and the people of Guam," Terlaje said.
The speaker was referring to Bill 12-37, which would require a legislative review for any property transactions entered into by the government.
"Without vetting, any governor can single-handedly choose to enter into leases with the federal government and obligate the people of Guam for generations without their say," Terlaje said.
"It is a mockery of our already limited self-government and the three-branch system and is akin to the naval governors of the past who ignored the wishes of the legislature and the people of Guam," she added.
Terlaje underscored the importance of vetting the details of the hospital project and the corresponding lease agreement to ensure that its terms would benefit the people of Guam first.
With a missile defense system proposed to be built adjacent to the hospital site,
restrictions, including height, are likely to be imposed.
"The military can no longer meet its obligation under the congressionally sanctioned net negative promise to the government of Guam for return of land in exchange for the hardships put on the people of Guam to accommodate the negative effects of the military buildup," Terlaje said.
"This is a huge step backward for Guam after getting congressional and military support of the net-negative promise, and follows a string of other broken promises by the military such as avoidance of historic sites, preservation of endangered species, mitigation of residential housing costs resulting from military buildup, and cleanup of contamination," she added.
"We might as well have a naval governor if the people will have no say from now on," Terlaje said.
The government of Guam spent $1.8 million on the initial study conducted by Matrix.
Terlaje said the emerging new details will require the government of Guam to begin planning all over again, entailing additional unknown costs incurred to meet the tremendous obligations under the proposed lease.
"Neither the Army Corps of Engineers nor the governor’s consultant, Matrix, planned for these types of terms when they asked the government to set aside $35 million a year of Guam taxpayers’ money and $300 million in ARP funds," the speaker said.