By Johnnie Rosario
(Tumon, Guam) In a video of a recent address by Gov. Lou Leon Guerrero to the Guam Medical Association leaked to Kandit News, Ms. Leon Guerrero is caught on tape throwing her powers under the Emergency Health Powers Act around, and threatening a local clinic with her power to seize its facility and use its personnel however she feels.
"No, you will provide the government, and we will work together, because I will use your facility maybe for triaging, or maybe for isolation, you know depending on what the case may be, that's my authority if we declare it a public health emergency," Ms. Leon Guerrero exclaimed in response to a question from an American Medical Center worker.
Ms. Leon Guerrero has not yet declared a state of public health emergency. Under a law enacted by the Guam Legislature 20 years ago, the governor has near-dictatorial powers during such a state of emergency, and can seize private assets and conduct the financial affairs of the government as she sees fit.
"In the event you declare the island in a pandemic emergency, would satellite clinics such as American Medical Center, FHP, or SDA, will the government provide us with extra supplies ... will the government be able to provide supplies such as gowns, and gloves, or even extra personnel to assist?" the worker asked the governor.
"So, if we declare a public health emergency, the governor has authority for everything," the governor started her response. "Um, and so, I can say to AMC, 'AMC you are now under government authority, and this is what I want you to do, this is how we're gonna do it!'"
"If we do declare a public health emergency, there is local legislation that allows me, I have authority, I have authority to take money, I have authority to take property, I have authority to move personnel wherever I feel, uh, they are needed to be, so yes, we would have to, basically you have no say." - Gov. Lou Leon Guerrero to doctors
Sen. Jim Moylan was astounded after reading the law, and is contemplating legislation to curve the governor's enormous powers under the act.
“For the record, just going through Chapter 19 of Title 10, GCA , it surprises me that a previous legislature would provide such enormous power to any governor and the actions they may pursue in the event of an emergency. While I have no problems with providing some emergency procurement and funding transfers to the chief executive, I think this archaic law needs to be updated so that any governor doesn’t just go in and seize private assets without an effective checks and balance system in place. This is where we should be concerned that potential abuse may exist and I will certainly review this once more to make recommendations for amendments.” - Sen. Jim Moylan
Kandit has sent this video to the members of the Guam Legislature and asked senators for their reaction to the governor's exclamations and threats.