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Who will backpedal on Bill 12-37?

By Pacific Island Times News Staff

Speaker Therese Terlaje today sought to clarify the intention of Bill 12-37 amid muddled assumptions and speculation that the measure would block the administration's plan to build a new hospital on a Mangilao property known as Eagles Field.

“The bill was not introduced to obstruct effectuated political agenda nor to seek direct control over the executive branch function,” said Terlaje, author of Bill 12-37 which would require legislative approval for the purchase or lease of property owned by the federal or foreign governments for terms in excess of five years.

“The bill would simply require legislative approval of the lease, mandating more scrutiny for deals being made on behalf of the people of Guam,” she added.

Guam senators will take a vote this afternoon on a motion to override Gov. Lou Leon Guerrero’s veto of the unanimously passed bill.

The legislature needs 10 voters to override the veto. Some senators are anticipated to backpedal on their support for Bil; 12-37.

The bills' passage was one of the senators’ repeated attempts to obtain details of the Navy’s soon-to-be-signed lease agreement with the governor involving the Eagles Field property, where a new $1-billion medical campus is proposed to be built.

“ I don’t care who gets the credit for a new hospital. I care that the people of Guam deserve a new hospital and are almost desperate for one but they do not deserve to be held hostage on a lease with unknown terms and given a 30-day deadline to lose the land again,” Terlaje said.

“No senator or legislature, agency or governor should be pressured into consenting to unknown military requirements and unknown financial commitments because someone is giving us a 30-day ultimatum.”

“If we’re going to make decisions on behalf of the people of Guam, we need to make them in the light of day,” Sen. Joanne Brown said.

Sen. Will Parkinson, who has expressed his intention to vote against the override, said he initially voted for Bill 12-37 based on assumption that the land might be returned to the ancestral owners.

After meeting with Rear Adm. Ben Nicholson, Parkinson said it became clear to him that there was no possibility of land return.

"I cannot support this hospital because the choice is either you badly need a hospital or you don't," he said, "I cannot in good conscience not support a new hospital."

Why the haste on the lease, Sen. Tom Fisher asked

“I don’t think anybody in this chamber created the urgency or lit the candle. No one in this chamber created the fuse,” Fisher said.

“This happened elsewhere. This lease was not sketched out on the back of a cocktail napkin between the admiral and the governor one night. This lease has been percolating, moving forward in the dark, probably, I guess, at least two years. Was anyone invited to participate in this discussion? It was enshrouded in fog and mystery.”

More details to follow.

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