Guam Congresswoman Urged To Modify Funding Bill

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Bordallo bill would utilize military tax monies for war claims

By Mar-Vic Cagurangan

HAGÅTÑA, Guam (Marianas Variety Guam, Jan. 8, 2013) – Guam senators are urging Delegate Madeleine Bordallo to modify her war reparation bill and explore alternative sources of funding other than Section 30 that is proposed in her legislation.

"Section 30 is money owed to the government of Guam," Speaker Judi Won Pat said. "I would prefer that it’s not used as offset for the survivors’ claims. I wish it had not been done that way."

Section 30 constitutes military tax remittances that are incorporated into GovGuam’s annual appropriations. Guam’s Section 30 collections are projected at $53 million in fiscal year 2013.

Bordallo’s H.R. 44, the Guam World War II Loyalty Recognition Act, which was reintroduced in the 113th Congress last week, targets "future additional Section 30 funds attributable to the military buildup" to pay for war survivors’ claims.

"The offset is a credible source of funding that will ensure the payment of claims while leaving the option for direct appropriations by Congress in the future," Bordallo said, noting that the text of the new bill is similar to the one she filed but failed to pass in the 112th Congress.

‘Perplexing’

Describing Bordallo’s bill as "perplexing," Sen. Rory Respicio said the proposed use of Section 30 "adds insult to injury."

"I hope Congresswoman Bordallo is doing this solely for tactical purposes by identifying the use of Section 30 money to get Congress to recognize its obligation to the World War II survivors, and then identify another offset," Respicio said.

Respicio, who heads the oversight committee on federal affairs, said he is preparing a resolution requesting Bordallo to "explain the logic of her plan."

"If she is truly trying to use Section 30 as a funding source, then I believe this will not truly represent our people's feelings on this emotional issue, and would then be incumbent on the congresswoman to withdraw her bill," he said.

Hospital expansion

Instead of using Section 30 to offset the survivors’ war claims, Won Pat proposed that the federal government expand its financial support for Guam to fund the expansion of the Guam Memorial Hospital.

Expanding the services at Guam’s only government hospital can address the medical and healthcare needs of the remaining war survivors, Won Pat said.

Other sources

Sen. Ben Pangelinan said taking the Section 30 route "kind of seems strange," noting that the U.S. is a trillion-dollar government "and we have to take money out of our own pocket."

"I commend [Bordallo] for her continued diligence on this issue," Pangelinan said. "The source of funding is something that we all have to look at, but we have to make sure that we don’t shortchange ourselves."

Sen. Frank B. Aguon Jr. said the impact of using Section 30 to pay for the war claims must be assessed, "given our present fiscal constraints."

"I will continue to monitor the bill as it passes through the Capitol, and will do what must be done locally to ensure that our elderly finally receive the recognition and compensation they have long deserved," Aguon said.

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