GUAM WAR CLAIMS BILL HELD UP OVER COST

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HAGATNA, Guam (Pacific Daily News, August 1) – Guam's latest effort to secure the payment of war reparations from the federal government has remained in status quo during the past seven weeks.

H.R. 1595, the "Guam World War II Loyalty Recognition Act," currently is on the U.S. House of Representatives Union Calendar, which is where bills that deal with money are placed.

A spokeswoman for Guam Delegate Madeleine Bordallo's office recently described the bill as "difficult," and that the main obstacle is its cost. It would cost federal taxpayers nearly $200 million, according to Congress.

The Japanese military beat, murdered, tortured, raped, imprisoned and enslaved the people of Guam during the occupation.

"I hope she will continue fighting for it," said Tamuning resident Florencio M. Santos, who said he was 13 years old when the Japanese invaded the island.

He said he and his family were forced by the Japanese to clear fields and grow sweet potatoes at Tiyan, from mid-1942 until the U.S. started bombing the island before liberation.

If approved by Congress, the bill, which was introduced in April 2005 by Bordallo, would compensate Guam residents for their suffering at the hands of the Japanese military, which occupied the island for more than two years during World War II. It calls for $25,000 payments on behalf of residents who died during the occupation and smaller payments in cases of injury and forced labor.

Guam is seeking compensation from the federal government and not Japan because the United States forgave Japan decades ago. But Santos said he disagrees with that. "They (Japan) should pay us, not the U.S.," he said, since it was Japan that used the people here and the United States that liberated the island.

The Congressional Budget Office earlier this year determined that paying the war claims described in the bill would cost the federal government about $180 million over a four-year period, plus $11 million to implement and process the payments and $5 million for a grant program to support activities in memory of the occupation.

Spokeswoman Alicia Chon said Bordallo is working with House Resources Committee Chairman Richard Pombo, R-Calif., and the House leadership to bring the bill to the floor and hopes to have the bill acted on during the current Congress.

It will be up to the majority party, the Republicans, to decide if and when the bill makes it to the floor for debate.

Bordallo earlier this year described spending measures as difficult to pass because of the cost of the war in Iraq and the cost of hurricane recovery in the mainland.

The war claims bill has 87 Democratic co-sponsors, 24 Republican co-sponsors and an independent co-sponsor, from Puerto Rico.

Most bills introduced in the House do not make it out of committee, but the war claims bill has been considered and approved by two House committees.

August 1, 2006

Pacific Daily News: www.guampdn.com

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