Sen. Frank Blas Aguon Jr. released a statement Tuesday where he raised questions concerning a Freedom of Information Act request by Archdiocese of Agana legal counsel John C. Terlaje for any and all opinions of the legislative counsel regarding Bill 326-33.
According to Aguon, Bill 326 was a highly publicized piece of legislation that garnered wide media coverage and comprised three scheduled public hearings where numerous community members attended and offered oral and written testimony in support of the legislation that was eventually passed by a unanimous vote and signed into law by Gov. Eddie Calvo on Sept. 23.
Aguon pointed out, "At no point during this legislative process did the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Agana, a Corporation Sole, voice any concern or objection to the legislative process or the bill."
Aguon stated that he had no qualms with the inquiry made at the behest of Coadjutor Archbishop Michael Byrnes, but added, "I have to wonder where these concerns were during the legislative process."
Citing various seeming anomalies with the FOIA request itself, Aguon questioned the intent behind the comprehensive request for all documents, emails, substitute bills, mark-up drafts and audio/visual recordings for all public hearings and legislative sessions that pertain to the legislation that removed the statute of limitations on civil litigation for cases involving child sexual abuse.
"This request falls short of a subpoena which begs the question, What is the true nature of this request?" Aguon said in the statement released Tuesday. "My office is in the process of compiling any and all information requested in the FOIA and will respond where legally possible. Just to be clear, once compiled, I will make these documents available to the public."
In addition to documents, correspondence and electronic material that relates to Bill 326, Terlaje's FOIA request further requested all relevant files from both Sen. Aguon's office and the Committee on Guam-U.S. Military Relocation, Public Safety and Judiciary on which Aguon serves as the legislative chair.
Terlaje is representing the Archdiocese of Agana which now faces a total of thirteen suits including twelve suits alleging child sexual abuse and a single libel and slander suit filed back in July.
Terlaje's FOIA request made on behalf of the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Agana to Aguon stipulated that the requisite material be made available within four working days from the receipt of the request dated Dec. 12.
When asked for comment regarding Aguon's statement, Terlaje replied that he had none.