Respect the Chamorro People Rally on April 7, 2017

For Immediate Release, March 29, 2017 — A series of disrespectful acts against the Chamoru people seemed to eclipse what is normally one of the most festive times of the year — Mes Chamoru, a month dedicated to celebrating the Chamoru culture.

Almost daily this month, Guam’s news outlets have reported on military and other encroachment into sacred lands and natural habitats from northern to southern Guam; a court decision against the Chamoru right to self-determination; and Federal threats to theChamoru Land Trust. For many Chamorus, these actions have sparked the need to remind the community that Guam is i Tano’ i Man Chamoru, the homeland of the Chamoru people.

The language, culture and heritage of the Native people of Guam and the Marianas are what make our archipelago unique in the world.  There is no other place on earth for Chamorus to call their homeland. Above all, the Chamoru people, like all indigenous people, deserve to be treated with dignity and respect, especially in their native land.

A grassroots collective has come together to organize the Respect the Chamorro People Rally on April 7 from 4 – 6 p.m. at the Adelup lawn.  Adelup was the site of a series of demonstrations and the famous Nasion  Chamoru campout that pushed the Government of Guam to implement the Chamoru Land Trust in 1995.

The rally will be a safe and welcoming space for all members of our community, Chamoru and others alike, to come together in solidarity to protect and defend the native and human rights of the Chamoru people and their place in the world. The rally will feature speakers and live performances, including poetry, music and traditional chants.

Every school day on Guam, tens of thousands of our children recite the Inifresi, a promise for those who call Guam home, to protect and defend the six things that make life possible and beautiful, drawn from Chamoru heritage, culture and history: i hinengge, i kottura, i lenguåhi, i aire, i hanom yan i tano’ Chamoru.

Join us on April 7 in celebration of this promise and of the Native people of Guam who have inherited it.


36th Flame Tree Arts Festival in Saipan from April 20-23, 2017

CNMI – The Commonwealth Council for Arts and Culture annual Flame Tree Arts Fesival, is tentatively scheduled for April 20-23, 2017 on Saipan at the Civic Center, Susupe Beach Park.

CNMI would like to extend an invitation for Guam’s participation at this four-day event – Guam’s artists, performers, and entertainers for Cultural displays and shows.

For more information about the festival, please do not hesitate to contact Mr. Gary Sword at, (670) 233-14400 or Mr, Parker Yobei at the Commonwealth Council for Arts and Culture office 9670) 322-9982/3 or



Since 1981, the FLAME TREE ARTS FESTIVAL has celebrated the natural and cultural beauty of the Northern Mariana Islands by producing a dynamic 4 day event featuring indigenous and cultural arts, music, crafts, art competition, dance and recognition of indigenous artists and cultural purveyors. The Flame Tree Festival brings together local and Pacific arts and culture in a central setting.

At this community festival, art enthusiasts discover spectacular paintings, sculptures, jewelry, photography, ceramics and more, offering extraordinary art for every taste. Thousands of dollars in art will be on display, providing locals and visitors with the opportunity to purchase one-of-a-kind wares and meet the artists behind the work, hearing firsthand what inspires them.

Plus, you can enjoy a variety of local activities and performances throughout the 4 day event, including live music, hands-on activities and art happenings. Schools will be afforded space to showcase, sell and promote the arts crafted in their schools.

One of the things that makes this work well is a community-centered approach. We will enlist the help of parents, students, principals, and residents with whom we already have a relationship stemming from our partnerships with local schools, businesses, government entities and organizations.

Legislature Adopts Resolution Nos. 51-34 (LS) and 52-34 (LS)

Resolution Nos. 51-34 (LS) and No. 52-34 (LS) were introduced during the March 9, 2017 session within hours after Vice Speaker Terlaje learned about the threatened lawsuit against the Chamorro Land Trust Commission (CLTC) and a day after the Davis v. Guam District Court decision was released. It was urgent that both resolutions be passed immediately given the April 7th appeal deadline for the Davis case, and the CLTC deadline of January 2017 (2 months ago). The matters discussed in Resolution Nos. 51-34 (LS) and 52-34 (LS) are complicated legal issues that will require extensive analysis and immediate decisions by the Attorney General and Governor of Guam. The resolutions were meant to show the support and solidarity of the Legislature with the Executive Branch and the AG, and in no way prevent the government of Guam from seeking other options. There were enough votes and support from the other senators during the March 9th session to pass both resolutions, but Senator Michael F.Q. San Nicolas and a couple of other senators requested that a public hearing be held. Speaker Cruz indicated that a special session would be called as soon as a public hearing was held, since the next session was not planned until after April 17th. Unfortunately, Speaker Cruz left off-island on the day of the public hearing, which was held five working days after the March 9 session.

The public hearing notice was sent out on March 9, 2017, with ample time for senators to consult with or invite interested parties to participate in the public hearing. The hearing lasted over 5 hours; only Senator San Nicolas and Vice Speaker had questions for the panel. One attorney was asked to wait for further questioning by Senator San Nicolas after the other testifiers had their turn. The attorney waited, but Senator San Nicolas left before the hearing was concluded without resuming his questions to the attorney.

The audio from the public hearing was uploaded to the Legislature website and attached to the committee report, along with all written testimony, a digest, and all other requirements per the standing rules.

The committee report was filed with the Committee on Rules but the COR Chair refused to approve it for upload to the website prior to the March 17, 2017 session. The report was made available on the session floor.

Discussion on the resolutions was halted by a motion of Senator Morrison which Vice Speaker Terlaje did not support. Senator San Nicolas left the room during the vote. Both resolutions were adopted.

These resolutions do nothing to change current Guam policy and simply convey that the Legislature supports the defense of current policies and preservation of options at this time. Nothing in this resolution prevents the pursuit of all avenues available to the government of Guam, nor prevents any senator from proposing another policy or course for the government and people of Guam.

Testimony from March 17th Public Hearing for Resolution 51-34 (LS) and Resolution 52-34 (LS)

Download the video for March 17, 2017 – Committee on Culture and Justice Public Hearing at this link :

or view it directly on YouTube at:

U.S. Department of Justice letter to Governor Eddie Baza Calvo regarding Fair Housing Act lawsuit against the Government of Guam – DOJ letter_CLTC

Arnold Davis v. Guam decision – Davis v Guam case

The following list of people provided testimony at the hearing.  The time lapse marks indicate where their testimony can be found in the video.  Their written transcripts can also be found below.

1. Bob Pelkey – 27:40 minute mark  – Pelkey.B.WT.03.17.17

2. Harold Cruz – 46:49 minute mark  – Cruz.Harold.J – P.H.03.16.17

3. Ofing (Josephine) Jackson – 53:44 minute mark  – Jackson, Ofing P.H.03.17.17

4. Vicente Garrido – 1:01:06 minute mark  – Garrido, Vincent P.H. 03.17.17

5. Enrique Torres –1:07:56 minute mark – Torres, Enrique – P.H. 03.17.17

6. Robert LG Benavente – 1:18:46 – Benavente, Robert P.H. 03.17.17

7. Jamela Santos – 1:26:36 – Santos.J.A.WT.03.16.17

8. Mike Phillips – 1:33:50 – Phillips, Michael J. Atty. P.H. 03.17.17

9. Senator Carmen Kasperbauer – 2:07:50 – Kasperbauer, Carmen – P.H. 03.17.17

10. John Ray Aguon – 2:16:18 – Aguon, John Ray – P.H. 03.17.17

11. Senator Hope Cristobal – 2:26:27 – Cristobal, Hope P.H. 03.17.17

12. Lasia Casil – 2:46:09 – Casil, Lasia – P.H. 03.17.17

13. Ray Lujan – 2:51:17 – Lujan.R.WT – P.H.03.17.17

14. Darrin Pangelinan reading for Lakretia Castro-Santos and Social Work Students Alliance – 2:54:56 – Castro.Santos.L.WT.03.17.17

15. Rosario Perez – 2:57:44 – Perez.R.L.03.17.17

16. Jose Garrido – 3:03:12 – Garrido, Jose Ulloa – P.H. 03.17.17

17. Josette Quinata – 3:29:45 – Quinata.J.M.L.WT.03.17.17

18. Carlos Camacho – 3:39:11 – Camacho, Carlos – P.H. 03.17.17

19. Maga’låhi Aniti – 3:48:54 – Aniti, Maga’låhi – P.H. 3.17.17

20. Michael Bevacua 4:02:17 – Bevacqua, Michael – P.H. 03.17.17

21. Trini Torres – 4:09:29 – Torres, Trini – P.H. 3.17.17

22. Ronald Laguana – 4:47:28 – Laguana, Ronald – P.H. 03.17.17

23. Ned Pablo – 4:33:09 – Pablo, Ned – P.H. 03.17.17Pablo, Ned – P.H. 03.17.17 Oral TestimonyPablo, Ned – P.H. 03.17.17 Chamorro

24. Frank Munoz – 4:40:32 – Munoz, Frank – P.H. 3.17.17

25. Dr. Rosa Paloma – 4:44:15 – Palomo, Rosa WT 03.17.17

26. Desiree Ventura – 4:49:52 –Ventura, Desiree – P.H. 03.17.17

27. Shannon McManus – 5:02:45 – McManus, Shannon – P.H. 03.17.17

28. Alissa Eclavea – 5:06:45 – Eclavea, Alissa – P.H. 03.17.17

29. Ofing (Josephine) Jackson – 5:15:07 – Jackson, Ofing Res. 52-34 – P.H. 03.17.17

30. Harold Cruz – 5:20:04 – Cruz, Harold 52-34 P.H. 03.17.17

31. Amanda Santos – 5:23:36 – Santos, Amanda P.H. 03.17.17

32. Mike Phillips – 5:25:30 – Phillips, Michael J. Atty. 52-34 P.H. 03.17.17

33. Enrique Torres – 5:28:04 – Torres, Enrique – P.H. 03.17.17

Written Testimony Submitted via email:

Franquez, R. WT 03.17.17

Aquino, Genedine WT 03.15.17 ISO RN 52-34 (LS)

Franquez, R. WT 03.17.17

Pablo, N. WT 03.15.17 ISO RN 51&52-34 (LS)

Pangelinan, M. I.D. WT 03.17.17

Santos, Anghela WT 03.17.17 RN 51&52-34 (LS)

Sayama, C. R.L. WT 03.17.17 RN 51-34 (LS)

Underwood on Self-Determination testimony read by Vice Speaker Terlaje – 23:18 minute mark – Underwood..A.WT.03.16.17

Underwood, R. A. WT 03.17.17 RN 51-34 (LS)


FOR IMMEDIATE NEWS RELEASE (March 17, 2017 – Hagåtña) – Senator Therese M. Terlaje (D-Yona) issued the following statement after a full day of public hearing and Legislative session on Resolution Nos. 51-34 (LS) and 52-34 (LS):

“Today, I am humbled by the overwhelming community support for two resolutions that I believe are really urgent for the people of Guam.  The rapid pace of events called for the Legislature’s immediate action on behalf of the people of Guam, to timely render its opposition to both District Court opinion in Davis v. Guam and the Department of Justice’s position on the Chamorro Land Trust Act, as both issues have significant legal and political implications for the government of Guam and its residents,” stated Terlaje.

Dozens of people, including many community leaders, testified during today’s five-hour public hearing, with over 40 oral and written testimonies in full support of the two resolutions.

The public hearing was followed by an emergency session during which there was little debate, and the body successfully passed Res. No. 51-34 (12 yeas, 3 excused absences) and Res. No. 52-34 (11 yeas, 1 nay, 3 excused absences).

“I am thankful to my colleagues and to all those who came out to testify and be part of this very important step.  Truly, I am excited about the prospect of revitalizing the quest for self-determination and moving forward together,” Terlaje stated. 

Terlaje oversees the Guam Legislature’s Committee on Culture and Justice, including all matters relating to self-determination, political status, the United Nations, and the Commission on Decolonization, as well as all matters relating to indigenous rights and culture.

The March 17, 2017 recordings are available here:

Public Hearing



For more information, please call the Office of Vice Speaker Therese M. Terlaje at (671) 472-3586.

Session remarks by Vice Speaker Terlaje objecting to Resolution No. 27-34

Transcript from 34th Guam Legislative Afternoon Session on March 8, 2017

Legislative Session Remarks of Vice Speaker Therese Terlaje on Resolution 27-34 (COR):

It is irrefutable that Veterans of Guam who served the U.S. Military deserve the respect and attention of the United States government. It is commendable that lawyers from Guam recognize these disparities and step up and help our veterans. There are many other concrete ways that we lawyers and non-lawyers can assist veterans. For example, we have Vietnam Veterans who still are not receiving Agent Orange disability benefits because of the discouraging paperwork and process they must go through.

Their service in Vietnam entitles those are diagnosed with cancer, diabetes, or other illnesses to a presumption of exposure to Agent Orange an entitlement to medical, disability, survivor, and other benefits and compensation. Yet the lengthy, complicated, discouraging claims process discourages them. And we attorneys and non-attorneys should work together to help these veterans gain this immediate and concrete relief; and these winnable claims.

It is also equally irrefutable that the citizens of Guam are being treated unequally by the United States and face many serious injustices that require immediate action, most notably the impending live fire range being built at Northwest Field that threatens our ancient village, critical habitat, endangered species, and causes permanent injury to land that should be returned to original landowners. Voting rights as proposed in this Resolution does not give us adequate tools to protect our homelands. The people of Guam and other territories deserve to determine for themselves their governance and political status.

Resolution 27-34 (COR) proposes to recognize the “We the People Project” for advancing voting rights for the people of Guam and other territories. And to commend the “We the People Project” for advocating for the voting rights of the people of Guam.

While the resolution at first glance appears commendatory, it is being treated as a substantive resolution, and indeed, it may be interpreted by third parties as a substantive endorsement of the underlying merits or arguments of the case. In short, the resolution may have unintended consequences for the people and government of Guam, including possibly the government’s ability to intervene in the case should intervention become necessary at some stage of litigation. The government of Guam’s position in the underlying case has not yet been fully vetted, and may be controlled by current policy as contained in statute, which mandates that the government pursue decolonization and a plebiscite pursuant to UN directives. The Segovia case has the potential to impose on Guam a vote for president without a corresponding vote of the people to enter into one of three internationally recognized political statuses, as a state fully incorporated into the United States, as a state in free association with the United States, or an independent country.

Thus, the case may have broader legal consequence inasmuch as it may upset a political process that ensures self-determination for the people of Guam. A right this important – if it is to be given up – must be thoroughly considered and consciously surrendered. We should not allow it to be impliedly conceded through the adoption of a commendatory resolution.

In a similar case brought by the same “We the People Project”–against the wishes of the government of American Samoa. Congressman Faleomavaega, the Congressman who recently passed away, and the American Samoa government argued that Congress and the people of American Samoa, not the courts, should decide whether to extend birthright citizenship to American Samoa.  They argue: (1) that the imposition of birthright citizenship by judicial fiat would have unintended negative consequences for the culture of American Samoa, including the ability to protect the people’s ownership of their customary lands–which Congress has long protected; and (2) that the imposition of birthright citizenship would upset a political process that ensures self-determination for the people of unincorporated territories.

The United States District Court for the District of Columbia dismissed the case, and the Court of Appeals affirmed the dismissal in favor of the government of American Samoa. The case was appealed to the Supreme Court of the United States in February 2016. And in June, the Supreme Court denied certiorari, upholding the decision in favor of American Samoa. It should be of grave concern to us, in Guam, that the We the People Project brought this lawsuit against the wishes of the American Samoa government and many of the people themselves.

At the public hearing on this resolution, there were no witnesses to testify. The President and Founder of We the People Project, as said earlier, submitted written testimony on this measure. And there was some discussion about this underlying case affecting American Samoa. The digest from the public hearing indicates, and I quote, page 3 of the digest, “Chairman San Nicolas thanked Vice Speaker for her statements and echoed her statements on the American Samoa state government not supporting the original case. Chairman San Nicolas indicated it is because of that reason that I Liheslaturan should chime in on the issue, one way or the other, considering that the only voice being heard now at the federal level is that of a particular state government not supporting the case, and in turn that can be extrapolated as to whether or not the other U.S. territories support the case. Chairman San Nicolas indicated that the time is now to decide on the issue, and that the Resolution can help that cause.”

I would like to read a short quote from the U.S. Court of Appeals, when they ruled in favor of American Samoa. And I quote “We can envision little that is more anomalous under modern standards than the forcible imposition of citizenship against the majoritarian will. To hold the contrary would be to mandate an irregular intrusion into the autonomy of the Samoan democratic decision-making. An exercise of paternalism if not overt cultural imperialism offensive to the shared democratic tradition of the United States and modern American Samoa. For the foregoing reasons the district court is affirmed.”

In the citations of the last paragraph, they cite the United Nations charter. They cite excerpts from the Atlantic Charter, US and UK, August 1941, endorsing respect for the right of all peoples to choose which government in which they want to live. They cite Woodrow Wilson’s 14 points address to joint session of Congress in determining all questions of sovereignty, the interest of the population’s concern must have equal weight of the equitable claims of government; who’s title is to be determined. The underlying decision in the same case where the court said, “American Samoans take pride in their unique cultural and political practices and they celebrate its history free from conquest or involuntary annexation from foreign powers.”

The plaintiffs in this action are six United States citizens who are former residents of Illinois and who now reside in Puerto Rico, Guam or the U.S. Virgin Islands, plus two organizations that promote voting rights in United States Territories. The plaintiffs challenge the constitutionality of the Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act contending that it violates their equal protection and due process rights by barring them from casting absentee ballots in Illinois for federal elections due to their residence in the United States Territories of Puerto Rico, Guam, or the U.S. Virgin Islands, while allowing United States citizens who were previously qualified to vote in Illinois and currently reside in the United States Territory of the Northern Mariana Islands or in a foreign country to cast absentee Illinois ballots.

When Mr. Segovia resided in Illinois, he voted for President; he now votes in Guam elections. The other plaintiff, from Guam, moved to Guam. When he resided in Illinois, he voted for President. He now votes in Guam elections. So while this case reports to advocate for Guam voting rights, it really advocates for persons who used to live in Illinois to have absentee voting rights in Illinois.

The court ruled against the We the People project in both of their motions for summary judgment and when talking about the right to interstate travel: “neither the UOCAVA nor Illinois MOVE infringe upon the plaintiffs’ right to leave Illinois and travel to a U.S. territory. They are free to come and go as they please, although their decisions to relocate to Puerto Rico, Guam or the USVI have come at a cost. They moved outside of the State of Illinois and became residents of U.S. territories “in a constitutional scheme that allocates the right to appoint electors to States but not territories.” By moving to their respective territories, the plaintiffs gained the rights and privileges of citizens of their new residence. Their loss of the right to vote in federal elections was not caused by the UCOAVA or Illinois MOVE, but by their own decision to relocate.”

Guam has similar state interests as Illinois, and we have experienced challenges to our voting laws that we here at the Legislature have passed. We saw one recently in the Davis case that may seriously impact Guam’s decision to proceed with a plebiscite. As a member of the Guam Legislature, I object to Guam’s Legislature interfering with Illinois voting, I mean if the individual plaintiffs are successful then more power to them but as the Guam Legislature, I do not think it is our place. I do not want other states to come here and tell us that their residents should be voting in our elections, contrary to our laws. I do not want other countries to tell Guam or other territories who should be voting under our election statues. I just think that it is we, the people of Guam, who should decide our status. We must decide if voting rights, voting for president, if we took all the people of Guam or even all the Chamorros on Guam and in the States, put them all together and gave them this right to vote, does that help us?

That’s what we really need to decide before we move on to any kind of endorsement for that type of a voting right because it looks to me like that type of voting right will not help us in our pursuit for control over our lands or any type of control to stop live fire training and testing in our waters. That’s not what we get with this type of voting rights and the people of Guam have spoken about this. At the very least, it demands that more input be made. This is one of those things that the Guam legislature sends Congress, or United Nations, and United States advocates in the United Nations against Guam, saying that they’ve already decided the issue. They do not need the plebiscite. But I just think we do not need by purpose or accident, to give them any other ammunition that could be used against us.

We have to be very careful; we have had the benefit of learning from other countries that have made their choices in political status. We’ve seen the mistakes sometimes they made; how overbearing the United States is in that process and I think that we just need to protect ourselves from everything possible. And keep ourselves focused on what we have already decided to be our mission. So I ask my colleagues, at the very least, set this on for more hearings or to vote this down. I thank you very much.

Senator Terlaje discusses Resolutions No. 51-34 and 52-34 with Patti Arroyo

Senator Terlaje and Patti Arroyo  discuss the resolutions introduced by Terlaje in regards to the recent District Court ruling on the Arnold Davis case and the U.S. Department of Justice letter regarding the Chamorro Land Trust Commission.

March 9, 2017 Interview


Senator Terlaje and Patti Arroyo  discuss the passage of Resolution No. 51-34 (LS) and No. 52-34 (LS) and the subsequent meeting with the Governor and Attorney General.

March 20, 2017 Interview


March 21, 2017 Interview