Updated: Oct 8, 2019
By Johnnie Rosario
(Tumon, Guam) Members of the Guam Legislature are starting to weigh in on the corruption scandal, which has gripped the island since the start of the week, when news of Yona Mayor Jesse Blas’s arrest and indictment broke.
Rules Committee Chairwoman Sen. Regine Biscoe Lee, in a fierce statement against corruption, wrote,
While they have yet to be proven beyond a reasonable doubt, the allegations outlined by federal authorities in open court are reprehensible. The truth is that as a mother and a taxpayer, I’m angry and scared. While everyone deserves their day in court, I know we are all asking ourselves: who protects us from the protectors?
I think the answer is that there are hundreds of men and women who wear a uniform every day and keep Guam safe. We can’t ever forget them.
The court, DOC, and GPD must investigate the serious accusations aired by the FBI—by an independent group if need be. Our people should be encouraged that the police department has already said it is moving forward in this regard; it is my hope other government entities implicated in this case do the same.
Should the appearance of impropriety affect internal or independent inquiries, I will support legislative efforts to invoke our own investigative and oversight powers.
No one is above the law, most of all those entrusted in positions of power. These instances need clear and decisive action from federal and local authorities—they do not need more politics. That doesn’t mean the island’s leaders will play no role. We need to send a clear message as a people that we stand behind whistleblowers; that we will require enhanced background checks before confirmation, and that we call out corruption or abuse wherever we find it.
As leaders, we have a duty to not just say this, but to prove to everyone on Guam that we stand unwavering against corruption, uncompromising in our moral compasses, and unapologetic in our pursuit of truth.
The FBI's side of the story
The controversy began with Mr. Blas, but very quickly enveloped other matters, once Federal Bureau of Investigation Special Agent Rafael Fernandez took the stand and revealed an investigation into a Guam Marshal of human sex trafficking.
Mr. Fernandez also mentioned Joey Terlaje, the former deputy director of Corrections, as he recounted the testimony of a confidential source of information known to Mr. Blas.
Adelup lies to public; no due process for Terlaje
Adelup has been absent and silent throughout this controversy, refusing to answer whether the governor will commence an internal investigation to look into the validity of the FBI source’s claims, or to exonerate those implicated, including former governor’s appointee Joey Terlaje.
Sources close to Adelup revealed that Mr. Terlaje did not resign of his own volition, nor was he allowed to defend himself or clear the record. The information Kandit received was that the governor had pre-written Mr. Terlaje’s resignation letter, told him to sign it, and washed her hands of the matter for political expedience.
Governor’s director of policy Carlo Branch, when asked whether the governor asked Mr. Terlaje to resign, sent a coy response, “According to his (Mr. Terlaje’s) resignation letter, he did so ‘for the sake of his family.’” We then asked him who wrote the resignation letter. He responded, “I assume the person who signed and submitted it.” We asked him for a straight, ‘yes’ or ‘no’ answer to whether the governor asked Mr. Terlaje to resign, to which he replied, “I’m told by the governor that Joey submitted his resignation.”
"Innocent until proven guilty"
Speaker Tina Muna Barnes also weighed in on the growing scandal, stating in a release,
At this point, we as a government must ensure that public trust in their government is restored.
I have met with Mayors Council of Guam President, Mayor Melissa Savares and the Council is on top of this issue.
With regards to Public Safety, I am confident in the leadership of Capt. Joe Carbullido. I understand that Chief of Staff Babauta has visited DepCor to ensure that it is business-as-usual. As a former investigator at the Public Defender's Office, I understand first-hand the saying ‘innocent until proven guilty.’
As events unfold, I will give everyone in our GovGuam familia the benefit of the doubt; but let me be clear, any wrong doing will not be tolerated. Let me remind every GovGuam employee, that we got into this line of work for one reason: to serve the people of Guam. As we move forward, let us remember that, reflect on that, and act accordingly.
As Acting Lt. Governor, your Speaker, and a passionate Public Servant, I understand that the task before me, to restore the Public’s trust in our government - is no easy task. I am up to the challenge and am in open-communication with the Governor’s Office to ensure we do just that.