Delay by Leon Guerrero and Torres slows unemployment paychecks to the Marianas
By Johnnie Rosario
(Tumon, Guam) Throughout the past week, Gov. Lou Leon Guerrero has been sewing confusion in the community by telling reporters that residents only are qualified for $360 a week in Pandemic Unemployment Insurance (PUI) paychecks from the federal government through the CARES Act.
Every time the governor made these erroneous statements in her news conferences and on the Patti Arroyo Show on Newstalk K57, Congressman Michael San Nicolas wrote to the media immediately to correct the governor's false information she was spreading.
Ms. Leon Guerrero spent the better part of last week telling residents that, based on legal advice, only one portion of the PUI paychecks section - the one providing $360 a week in pay - applied to Guam. She said that, according to her legal people, Guam and the territories weren't included in the section allotting $600 per week to qualified PUI recipients.
She said these things despite constant assurances by Congressman Michael San Nicolas - even before the CARES Act passed into law - that Guam, the CNMI, and the other territories were included.
Mr. San Nicolas went as far as highlighting the pertinent sections of the CARES Act that clearly stated the territories's inclusion in the full $960 per week amount.
Congressman Gregorio "Kilili" Sablan also clarified this matter in writing several times regarding the CNMI's inclusion in the $600 program (on top of other PUI benefits).
Nevertheless, Ms. Leon Guerrero wrote an embarrassing letter to the U.S. Department of Labor seeking clarification on an already-clear provision of the CARES Act. When US DOL responded that the information provided by Mr. San Nicolas and Mr. Sablan were indeed, correct, Ms. Leon Guerrero and Gov. Ralph Torres issued news releases suggesting that their letters commanded approval of the the Marianas's inclusion into the PUI package.
That is not true at all, despite news stories suggesting this as such. The territories's inclusion in the PUI is the result of Congress, not a letter from the U.S. DOL.
Kandit took the time to write this story because no one else is acknowledging a glaring fact: the governor, AGAIN, provided wrong information to the public and tried to spin her way out of it when she was proven wrong. Her misinformation campaign has, AGAIN, caused confusion in a state of near perpetual confusion due to her false information campaign.
This misinformation and inability for the governor's legal counsel to properly advise his client of the plain reading of the federal statute has caused a one-week delay in getting these checks into the hands of the unemployed and the suffering.
Likewise, Mr. Torres's waiting for this letter has caused the same delay in the Commonwealth.
Based on their track records, Congressmen San Nicolas and Sablan mean what they say and provide accurate information when making public statements. When they inform their respective governors of federal mandates, our governors must act accordingly and avoid the politics and delays.