GOP senators stay out of Camacho-Moylan conflict

Friday, May 14, 2004

By Mar-Vic Cagurangan
Variety News Staff

HAGÅTÑA — The six Republican senators yesterday decided to stay out of the conflict between Gov. Felix P. Camacho and Lt. Gov. Kaleo Moylan on the issue involving the Guam State Clearinghouse.

The Republicans voted against Resolution 168, in which the Legislature declared its position in favor of the affirmation of Public Law 26-169, which created the clearinghouse and established the lt. governor’s responsibility over the office.

The Democratic majority voted for the adoption of the resolution, which authorized the legal counsel to file a “friend of the court” brief in the Guam Supreme Court in response to the governor’s request for declaratory judgment that would uphold his Organic powers to reorganize executive offices. The Legislature’s brief, along with that of the Attorney General’s Office, will be filed today.

Resolution 168 states that the passage of P.L. 26-169 was “a proper exercise of (the Legislature’s) law-making powers. It also noted that the governor acted beyond his Organic Power when he reorganized the clearinghouse.

Sen. Robert Klitzkie, R-Yigo, in voting against the resolution, said allowing the Supreme Court to enter a declaratory judgment would set a bad precedent. “I don’t think it is appropriate for the Legislature to participate in that process,” Klitzkie said.

Klitzkie yesterday introduced a single-line bill that proposes to repeal the Guam Supreme Court’s authority to issue a declaratory judgment. “I don’t think other Supreme Courts in other parts of the U.S. issue declaratory judgment. A case starts from the trial court and then goes to the Court of Appeals before it reaches the Supreme Court. I think that’s the way it should be,” Klitzkie said.

The clearinghouse issue was first brought by Moylan to the Superior Court. But the Guam Supreme Court put the lower court’s order on hold when it assumed jurisdiction over the case when Camacho filed a request for declaratory judgment.
Sen. Ray Tenorio, R-Yigo, in an earlier interview, said the Legislature should not be called to take part in a process that should be done by the Supreme Court.

Another Republican senator, who requested anonymity, said they didn’t want to take side because it might only split the party considering that the governor and lt. governor belong to the same party.

Vice Speaker Frank Aguon said the Democratic majority believes that the Legislature has the responsibility to protect its powers and policy-making duties. “The case involves issues that raise questions on the powers of the Legislature. We want to make sure that the Supreme Court acknowledges our law-making responsibility,” said Aguon, D-Yona.

The governor’s communications director Shawn Gumataotao said the Democratic majority’s position “came as no surprise.”

“The governor is confident in his legal standing,” Gumataotao said.



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