Hagåtña, Guam – The Office of the Governor issues the following statement relative to the attempt to override Governor Leon Guerrero’s veto of Bill 12-37 (COR):
The Legislature will be risking more than the loss of a hospital at Eagle’s Field if it overrides the Governor’s veto of Bill 12-37—it will be placing our island’s health and safety in jeopardy.
Certain opportunistic politicians decided from the start that there would never be a hospital at Eagle’s Field. To achieve that goal, they have misrepresented the Lease, misstated federal law, and manipulated ancestral landowners.
Yesterday, the same lawmakers who presented misleading and incomplete information about the federal status of the Eagle’s Field property to achieve a unanimous vote on Bill 12-37 blocked an attempt to bring the issue to the floor of the Legislature for open debate and discussion.
Senator Will Parkinson recently learned that he had fallen victim to the misinformation of his misleading colleagues:
“When I was hearing testimony on the floor, I am not going to lie, they swayed me. They made me think there was an opportunity to give these people their land back. So I voted to obstruct the hospital specifically because I thought there might be an opportunity. When I discovered that the hope of these landowners was a false hope, I can’t in good conscience say no to a hospital and continue to give these people false hope. It is irresponsible.”
Yesterday, Senator Parkinson made a motion to place the override on the agenda for a debate in an effort to obtain full transparency concerning the facts his colleagues had withheld from the Legislature and the public in pursuit of their own political agenda and ambitions. Instead, the same opportunistic members of the Legislature that pushed these falsehoods denied the motion and recessed until Wednesday—choosing again to stall progress instead of solve problems.
For weeks, these ambitious members of the Legislature have propped-up fiction provoking fear and mistrust of the U.S. military and obscuring the facts as they actually exist:
|“Eagle’s Field property can be returned to original landowners.”||Federal law prohibits direct distribution of excess lands to ancestral owners and has for 23 years. Despite a 2021 letter to the Governor that was written before the increased geopolitical tensions in the region, military officials have publicly stated that if Guam does not sign a lease to use the property for a medical complex, it will not be returned to original owners. It will be retained in federal inventory, and it will be used for military purposes, including a missile defense system and/or military housing. This information has been shared widely with the media and directly with members of the Legislature.|
|“Locals would not be served equitably.”||The hospital to be built on Eagle’s Field is not a military hospital and will be the new Guam Memorial Hospital (“GMH”) to serve ALL THE PEOPLE OF GUAM, both civilians and military. There is no agreement to prioritize military patients over our local population. This language does not appear anywhere in the lease, and any claims that our people’s access to the hospital will be subservient to the military is completely false and intended to further the obstructionists’ political agenda. The federal government currently pays for all local clinic services and hospital services provided to military patients; this will continue to be true at the new hospital.|
|“The Eagle’s Field lease agreement states the military can take over the hospital at any time.”||The President of the United States can already authorize federal agencies to take over any assets the President believes may be needed in a time of war or national emergency–this is true everywhere in the United States. Section 15.3 of the Lease does not enlarge rights, it only reflects that the federal government would have all rights already available to it under the law. Notably, the section preserves GovGuam’s right to seek reimbursement in the event such rights are employed.|
|“Ypao Point is available, build the hospital there.”||Ypao Point is too small for Guam’s growing needs and unable to fit a public health facility, behavioral health center, or a new veterans clinic on the same site, forcing our government to, once again, turn its back on the most vulnerable members of our community. Forcing construction on this site would also disrupt the operations of the CHamoru cultural center Sagan Kotturan CHamoru.|
|“We can just repair the current hospital.”||The Army Corps of Engineers has estimated that the cost of repairs to the aging GMH facility will exceed the cost of building an entirely new hospital. This proposal also fails to consider that current GMH operations cannot shut down for renovations. Patient care must continue as we construct the new hospital.|
The bottom line is that Guam needs a new hospital. This is an undisputed reality. With this Lease, we have an unprecedented opportunity to build a new state-of-the-art medical complex for the benefit of our island, on prime federally controlled land at no cost. The new complex will include a headquarters for behavioral health, public health, a veterans clinic, and a new hospital that will serve our people for decades. In addition to this lease coming at no cost to GovGuam, our federal counterparts will support our construction efforts by assisting in identifying federal funding sources for the facilities included in the new complex.
Signing this Lease will start us on the right path to ensuring that our people have the medical resources we need for decades to come.