Guam War Claims Review Commission Holds Organizational Meeting
June 9, 2004 - Guam War Claims Review Commission Presents Secretary Norton with the Report on the Implementation of the Guam Meritorious Claim Act of 1954, Including Findings and Recommendations
December 9, 2003 - The commission completed two days of public hearings to allow war survivors to speak about their experiences. A draft commission report to the Secretary of the Interior, the Committee on the Judiciary of the House of Representatives and the Committee on Energy and Natural Resources and the Committee on the Judiciary of the Senate is due May 9, 2004. On June 9, 2004, the final report will be presented to Congress.
GUAM WAR CLAIMS REVIEW COMMISSION HOLDS ORGANIZATIONAL MEETING
(October 3, 2003 - Washington, D.C.) With the support of the Office of Insular Affairs, the Guam War Claims Review Commission held its first meeting at the Department of the Interior today. After introductory remarks by Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Interior David B. Cohen and Guam’s Congresswoman Madeleine Z. Bordallo, the organizational meeting of the Guam Commission began with the swearing in of Commission members. The Commission unanimously chose Mauricio J. Tamargo, chairman of the Foreign Claims Settlement Commission, to serve as its Chairman and former Guam Speaker Antonio R. Unpingco as its Vice Chairman.
In accepting the post, Chairman Tamargo noted the crucial task in front of the Guam Commission. "I am honored to serve as your Chairman and to be a part of such an important task. As Chairman of the Foreign Claims Settlement Commission, my office has the logistical support and expertise to fairly and impartially evaluate whether claimants under the Guam Meritorious Claims Act were treated in parity with other U.S. citizens and nationals who suffered similar treatment during World War II." He continued, "I know that with the able assistance of my Vice Chairman, former Speaker Antonio Unpingco and the other capable Commissioners, we will zealously approach the Commission’s mandate."
On September 9, 2003, Secretary of the Interior Gale Norton named former Guam Speaker Antonio Unpingco, former Guam Supreme Court Justice Benjamin J. Cruz, former U.S. Congressman Robert J. Lagomarsino, former acting Assistant Secretary of the Interior for Territorial and International Affairs Ruth Van Cleve and Mauricio J. Tamargo, chairman of the Foreign Claims Settlement Commission, to serve as Commission members.
The Commission named David Bradley as its Executive Director. Mr. Bradley is currently the Chief Counsel to the Foreign Claims Settlement Commission and has been involved with the Foreign Claims Settlement Commission as staff attorney since 1979. The Guam Commission purposely targeted December 8, 2003 for the start of a 2-day public hearing to be held on Guam which was the date 62 years ago when the island was first occupied by Japanese Imperial forces.
The Commission will review the facts and circumstances surrounding the implementation and administration of the Guam Meritorious Claims Act to determine whether that measure fairly and effectively addressed the war claims of American nationals residing on Guam that arose between December 8, 1941, and July 21, 1944. Within eight months, the Commission must submit a report to the Secretary of the Interior, the House of Representatives’ Committees on Resources and the Judiciary and the Senate’s Committees on Energy and Natural Resources and on the Judiciary.
On December 8, 1941, Japanese armed forces invaded Guam and seized control of the island from the United States. Japanese forces occupied Guam for nearly three years. Guam is the only current part of the United States that was occupied by the Japanese armed forces during World War II. On July 21, 1944, the United States armed forces liberated Guam from Japanese occupation.
Keith Parsky, Esq.