GUAM LAWMAKER OFF TO GUARD TRAINING

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By Natalie J. Quinata

HAGÅTÑA, Guam (Pacific Daily News, Feb. 23) - The six-member Democratic minority will be losing a vote in the 28th Guam Legislature while Sen. Frank Aguon Jr., D-Yona, attends training for the Guam Air National Guard.

Aguon will be leaving today for training at Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio, Texas, for at least six weeks to two months, he said.

Aguon said that although the training is for predeployment and that he is required to respond to any deployment calls after the training, it is unlikely that he will be called to duty before the end of the year.

In a formal letter to Speaker Mark Forbes, R-Sinajana, Aguon requested to be officially excused from legislative session activities.

Aguon's duties have caused him to miss votes in past legislative sessions. Aguon joined the guard in 1998 when he was a senator in the 24th Guam Legislature.

Though some residents feel that Aguon's military service is honorable, they debate whether his absence from the Legislature is worth it.

"I voted for him because I thought he would help us, but now he's helping others," said Frank Acfalle.

Acfalle, 60, of Agat said elected officials are responsible to the local people here on Guam, and he worries that Aguon may miss voting on some key laws while he is gone.

"Being in the military is a very good thing, but he is a senator, and I think he should be here," said Acfalle.

Like Acfalle, Yona resident Bennett Castro said she wonders how Aguon can fulfill his public duties here on Guam when he's training for the military thousands of miles away from Guam.

"I'm happy to know that an elected official is willing to serve our country, but it may be his vote (in the Legislature) that makes a difference," Castro said.

Although Aguon did say that his absence this year may be excessive, he said he feels he is serving the public in another capacity.

"People say that I have been very generous in terms of my duty," Aguon said, adding that when he is on island, he is fully responsible and attentive to his duties as an elected official.

February 24, 2005

Pacific Daily News: www.guampdn.com

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