Officials tell congressional delegation of Guam issues
Lt. Gov. Ray Tenorio pleaded for Guam to have a greater voice in the nation's capital during his remarks at a wreath-laying ceremony at the Asan Bay Overlook yesterday.
Tenorio was addressing members of a congressional delegation from the House Committee on Natural Resources. The delegation attended the ceremony as part of a last stop on their weeklong visit to Guam.
Guam's lone seat in the U.S. House of Representatives does not have full voting powers, and Guam residents can't vote in the presidential election.
"I think to thousands and thousands of men who have gone to their grave while defending their country, even though they fought for the United States, they may vote for a president only when they are in the military in the states ... or wherever they're at ... but they can't vote from here," Tenorio said.
"Our representative ... she does not have the ability to vote the way (state representatives) do. ... It shouldn't matter whether you represent the people of Guam or Utah or any other people."
'A check mark on a paper'
Tenorio was speaking directly to Rep. Rob Bishop from Utah, the chairman of the natural resources committee, as well as other members of the delegation attending the ceremony, meant to honor victims of World War II.
"As we go on through the ceremony ... I hope we take these issues about the ability for any single United States citizen to vote for the commander in chief and to be able to have a representative is not just a voice but a check mark on a paper. ... Please take that into consideration as you head back to Congress."
Tenorio was not the only person to send a message to federal officials.
Former Sen. Frank Blas Jr., an advocate for war survivors, acknowledged the recent efforts made in Congress, but added more needs to be done to acknowledge the suffering of Guam Chamorros during World War II.
Congress last year passed legislation that would pave the way for the federal government to pay reparations for the families of those who were killed in the hands of the Japanese occupation forces and the survivors who suffered during World War II.
"Thank you for your continued efforts, but it's not done yet," Blas said.
Independent Guåhan has stated that the announcement of the war reparations legislation passing Congress, following years of attempts, was bittersweet for our community.
Guam’s war survivors will be paid with funds that were already supposed to go to the government of Guam for hosting the military – Section 30 funds, according to Independent Guåhan.