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WWII victims face continued setback from U.S. lawmakers

By Therese Hart HAGÅTÑA, Guam (Marianas Variety, July 21, 2011) – Setbacks from Congress and the dismal message from U.S. lawmakers regarding Guam’s war claims during last week’s hearing on H.R. 44 has two local lawmakers gathering their strength to continue pushing forward.

Speaker Judi Won Pat and Sen. Frank Blas Jr. have provided written testimony for the congressional record, both conjuring images of Chamorros who suffered at the hands of Japan’s Imperial Army.

"Twenty-three thousand men, women and children who were used as slaves were never extended even the most basic parity with other human beings in similar situations," said Won Pat. The issue of war claims or war reparations, or whatever name it is called by, was one of the first subjects of legislation introduced by my father, the late Congressman Antonio B. Won Pat, over 36 years ago, and then in 1985 by retired U.S. Marine General and Congressman Ben G. Blaz. Both of these gentlemen were survivors of the war and spoke with personal and intimate knowledge of the suffering of our people and the brutalities they endured," wrote Won Pat.

In 1992, then-Congressman Robert A. Underwood again asked the U.S. Congress to recognize the unfailing loyalty and patriotism of the Chamorro people. For the last eight and a half years, Guam’s incumbent Congresswoman Madeleine Z. Bordallo has made this quest her highest priority, said Won Pat.

Won Pat said the most important, most relevant finding of the Guam War Claims Review Commission to be considered at this point in time, is that the United States has a moral obligation to pay compensation for war damages. The Review Commission affirms there is a moral obligation on the part of the national government to pay compensation for war damages, in order to ensure to the extent possible that no single individual or group of individuals bears more than a just part of the overall burden of war, Won Pat said.

That the U.S. Congress recognized this obligation with respect to Guam is evidenced by its prompt enactment of the Guam Meritorious Claims Act of 1945 (within weeks after the termination of World War II, she added.

Every member of Congress should give greater deference to what the commission believed is a moral obligation of the national government, said Won Pat.

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