San Nicolas: Guam constitution is a possibility | News

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Guam can move forward with drafting and adopting its own constitution, according to Del. Mike San Nicolas.

San Nicolas on Thursday informed local lawmakers of a memo from the US Congressional Research Service. He said the legal authority for Guam to hold its own constitutional convention, first established in U.S. law in the 1970s, remains valid.

The delegate said the legislature could call for a constitutional convention by updating a 1977 law that allowed for a local constitutional convention, but is now obsolete.

Pursuant to Public Law 13-202, a convention for Guam convened on July 1, 1977, and the resulting draft constitution was presented to then-President Jimmy Carter and deemed approved after Congress failed to has not taken action on this. But efforts to pass the constitution failed, a local referendum was held and 82% of voters voted against it, according to Guampedia.

“Today we come to a situation where we have some governance issues again, especially between different branches of government,” San Nicolas said.

Drafting a constitution would allow public input into how local government is structured and strengthen checks and balances between branches of government.

“Then there would be a directed legal process to make sure that happens, whether it’s paying tax refunds at a certain time, or being careful about how much debt we have. let’s assume, and whether or not the public is okay with doing that,” he said.

It could also allow the island more flexibility in how it engages with the federal government, San Nicolas added.

The main benefit of adopting a constitution, he said, would be that the island would no longer have to ask Congress to amend the organic law. in order to modify the provisions of the local government.






The flags of Guam and the United States fly over Guma I Taotao Guam, or Guam Government House, in Agana Heights in this undated photo.



Several senators have expressed support for pursuing a constitution, including Senator Joe San Agustin, who recalled voting on the draft constitution in the 1970s.


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Senator Sabina Perez and President Therese Terlaje paused on the possibility of a constitution hindering CHamoru’s self-determination efforts on a new political status for Guam.

According to the Department of State, a constitution for Guam must: “Recognize and be consistent with the sovereignty of the United States over Guam and the supremacy of the Constitution, treaties, and laws of the United States applicable to Guam, including parts of the organic law of 1950 which do not concern local self-government.

Concern for self-determination has been a major reason Guam’s draft constitution has been rejected in the past, Terlaje said.

San Nicolas responded to self-determination concerns by designating Puerto Rico. The territory ratified its constitution in 1952, but was far ahead of Guam in self-determination efforts, the delegate said.

President Terlaje called for further analysis of the impact of a Guam constitution on self-determination.

San Nicolas earlier this week introduced a measure to include businesses owned by CHamoru and Carolinian in federal contracting and mentoring programs that are available to other Indigenous groups in the United States.

Dubbed “The Native Pacific Islanders of America Equity Act,” the bill was introduced with CNMI Del Gregorio Kilili Camacho Sablan.

To help the program move forward, a register of indigenous CHmorus should first be established. Such a registry would be based on a person’s ancestry on the island and would be managed by the Governor’s Office.

The delegate asked members of the Legislative Assembly to formally support the billwhose hearing is scheduled for early February.

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