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Sen. Blas Jr. chides Obama administration

By Therese Hart HAGÅTÑA, Guam (Marianas Variety, Sept. 16, 2010) – Senator Frank F. Blas, Jr. yesterday expressed his disappointment to President Barack Obama over his administration’s failure to recognize Guam’s World War II survivors while giving due credit to those who suffered during former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein’s regime.

Blas said Guam’s survivors suffered 65 years ago yet remain unrecognized.

"I hope that you can understand and appreciate the dismay the people of Guam have in your apparent inattentiveness to the moral and emotional obligation the United States has to recognize and acknowledge the sufferings caused on our people during World War II," wrote Blas to the president.

[PIR editor’s note: A measure submitted to the U.S. Congress by Guam lawmakers last year sought US$25,000 paid to survivors of the nearly 1,000 residents who died as a result of Japan’s occupation of Guam from December 1941 to July 1944, when the island was liberated by U.S. troops.]

The senator’s letter was prompted by national media reports stating, "Settling the claims brought by American citizens has been seen as a key requirement for Washington to be willing to push for an end to (the) UN sanctions."

"News of this recent action comes at a time when the United States is planning to move forward on a military buildup on Guam that would change the lives of my people forever. A buildup that many of Guam’s leaders have demanded that before it is allowed to take place, unresolved issues such as our World War II Loyalty Recognition Act need to be resolved. We’re being taken for granted," he said.

Blas is equally frustrated with Congresswoman Madeleine Z. Bordallo who promised that her office will secure a letter from the president to the U.S. Congress in support of Guam’s fight for war reparations.

"When we visited Washington, we sat with Congresswoman Bordallo’s senior staff and asked if we could get a personal commitment from President Obama and they said they would work on it. To this day, nothing has come out of that meeting," said the lawmaker. The Guam World War II Loyalty Recognition Act, which grants reparations to the island’s war survivors, is included as an amendment to the 2011 National Defense Authorization Act.

But there is a threat that some senators may not allow the reparations to remain in the final version of the bill that the Senate will vote on later this year, said Blas.

"If that happens, Guam’s war survivors will have to continue to wait for justice. Every one of Guam’s representatives to US Congress has introduced war reparations legislation, but still restitution has not been paid. Don’t Guam’s WWII survivors deserve the same attention and commitment that you gave to those Americans who suffered at the hands of the Iraqi government? Did you forget your promise?" he added.

said Obama, while still a senator, pledged to help Guam survivors’ claim for reparations.

"Although it is not known whether Guam’s delegate has since shared with you the suggestion from Senator Levin’s office, I share it with you now and pray that you commit to your promise. Sir, it is before you now, and my people are waiting," Blas told the president.

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