By Johnnie Rosario
(Tumon, Guam) At least three senators are researching ways to limit the governor's powers under the Emergency Health Powers Act, and to restore measures and standards of accountability and transparency that Gov. Lou Leon Guerrero has thus far refused to abide by.
Sen. Jim Moylan said his office has asked the Federal Emergency Management Agency whether federal funding will be jeopardized if the Guam Legislature invokes its authority to revoke the governor's declaration of a public health emergency, when senators are in session this week.
"I am certainly open to introducing a resolution to take Guam out of the Chapter 19, State of PH Emergency status," Mr. Moylan said. "We are just discussing with some legal folks to make sure we won't be impacted by FEMA or other programs if we under a standard state of emergency, as if a typhoon hit. Will keep you posted, but I agree, we need to move out of this status ASAP."
The senator was responding to an inquiry Kandit sent to all senators early Monday morning:
Gov. Leon Guerrero has the authority to activate the Emergency Operations Center and the Joint Information Center outside of a public health emergency to maintain the coordination of the COVID-19 crisis on Guam. Under such a declaration of emergency (not invoking the Chapter 19 powers), she can continue to do everything needed to manage the emergency without the power to cancel or suspend statutes and rules under Chapter 19. Are any of you willing to make a motion to cancel the governor's declaration of the public health emergency, when you go into session tomorrow?
Sen. Therese Terlaje said she is considering ways to limit the governor's powers under the Emergency Health Powers Act.
"Your suggestion is well taken, as I share your concerns regarding the broad powers of 10 GCA Ch 19," Ms. Terlaje said. "[I] am considering other options to limit the scope of certain emergency powers."
Ms. Terlaje is seeking an override of the governor's veto of Bill No. 333-35, which requires the governor to submit expenditure and contractual reports to the Guam Legislature monthly, among other mandates proposed in the bill.
Sen. Telo Taitague, who also is considering action to limit the governor's extraordinary powers, is calling on Sen. Sabina Perez to subpoena administration officials to answer for allegations of corruption by the Governor's Office regarding the illegal procurement of hotels for quarantine.
"With senators and local media organizations waiting for details from pertinent authorities concerning COVID-19 expenditures, use of Federal COVID-19 funds, and procurement of quarantine/isolation facilities and other emergency response requirements, [the Legislature] must take quick action in the coming days to obtain answers and hold officials accountable for their decisions," Ms. Taitague wrote to Ms. Perez today.
The senator is critical of the "fraudulent use of the Director of Public Health's digital signature, lack of required paperwork/contracts for quarantine/isolation facilities, and requests for expedited payments without supporting documentation."
"I am definitely open to restricting the governor's powers especially those involving procurement of goods and services. Adelup's refusal to be transparent when it comes to GovGuam's finances and COVID-19 expenditures has left me with no choice but to consider limiting the governor's authority." - Sen. Telo Taitague