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By Steve Limtiaco

HAGÅTÑA, Guam (December 25, 2001 – Pacific Daily News)---Government of Guam employees do not need high school diplomas, according to Gov. Carl Gutierrez, who yesterday accused senators of trying to segregate the community based on educational background.

Gutierrez yesterday vetoed Bill 171, by Sen. Vicente Pangelinan, D-Barrigada, which would require future GovGuam employees to have a high school diploma or equivalent education.

The bill was approved by lawmakers during their Dec. 7 session.

Sen. Mark Charfauros, D-Agat, was the only senator to vote against the bill. Sen. Judith Won Pat, D-Inarajan, one of the bill's co-sponsors, was off island and excused from voting that day.

"There are many people who for one reason or another could not or did not have the opportunity to finish high school," Gutierrez is quoted as saying in a written statement from his office.

"I see no reason why that should mean they can't have a government job even if they are qualified. It is discriminatory."

Pangelinan said the bill was approved because taxpayers deserve a government with qualified workers.

"I think this is something we need to do to ensure that the people of Guam get the best service they can from government employees," he said.

"I just think that the governor is maybe feeling a little self-conscious about this because of his educational level."

According to Pacific Daily News files, the governor graduated from South San Francisco High School, but did not attend college.

He was awarded an honorary doctorate of humanities in 1985 by the World Academy of Arts and Sciences in Taiwan, and an honorary doctorate of laws in 1996 by the University of Guam.

According to the governor's statement, "certain people in our community will become pariahs and outcasts all because they lack a piece of paper."

Pangelinan said the bill allows workers to qualify for some government jobs without a high school diploma, provided they are certified to do the work.

"If an auto mechanic has an auto mechanic certification and he didn't have a high school diploma, he can still apply for a job," Pangelinan said.

"For the governor to say what he is saying in his press release is way, way off base and is indicative of this administration's desire to continue to place unqualified people in positions in this government."

For additional reports from the Pacific Daily News, go to PACIFIC ISLANDS REPORT News/Information Links: Newspapers/Pacific Daily News (Guam).

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