Gov. Lou Leon Guerrero has sent a letter to David Bernhardt, the acting secretary of the Department of the Interior, seeking his “immediate assistance” in resolving the logjam that is preventing the U.S. Treasury Department from releasing the war claim awards to Guam’s World War II survivors.
“I am deeply concerned,” the governor wrote, that “an interpretation of (the Guam WW II Loyalty Recognition Act) may now necessitate additional congressional action which will cause further delays. “
She pointed out that “this year marks the 75th Anniversary of Guam’s liberation by U.S. forces from Japan” and “the ability to provide closure is long overdue.”
The letter was written in the wake of Guam Del. Michael San Nicolas' revelation on Monday that the Loyalty Recognition Act does not include a provision authorizing Treasury to issue checks to survivors who have won their claim for compensation.
Foreign Claims Settlement Commission has already notified more than 200 island manamko that have won reparation awards ranging from $10,000 to $25,000. But their checks cannot be released because of the deficiency in the Act.
In a statement to island media San Nicolas said former Del. Madeleine Bordallo’s office knew about the problem in May of 2018 but “said nothing.” He says neither Bordallo nor her staff informed him about the issue or their attempts to fix it. “We had to find this out through our own inquiries," he said.
San Nicolas said that a legislative solution may be the only way to correct the problem and that may take some time.
In her letter to acting Secretary Bernhardt, the governor expressed the hope that an administrative remedy might be reached if the Interior Department directly intercedes with Treasury “to rectify the situation.”
“I understand,” wrote the governor “that any administrative solution to this situation would take your direct interest and I respectfully request yours, along with Assistant Secretary Doug Domenech’s, assistance.”