Klitzkie: Bill 259 puts power in Guam's hands

by Clynt Ridgell, KUAM News
Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Recently Senator Bob Klitzkie (R) has introduced Bill 259, a piece of proposed legislation that would patriate the Organic Act and allow the Organic Act to be amended locally. Today there was a heated discussion during the bills public hearing.

Over the years the issue of Guam's self-determination has been one of much discussion and debate - discussions and debate that continue to this very day. In fact, today at the Legislature the subject was again brought up as Klitzkie's Bill 259 was up for public hearing. The proposed legislation would patriate the Act, in essence formally adopting the Organic Act and allowing Guam to amend it through a two-thirds vote of two successive legislatures and a majority vote of the people through a referendum.

I Nasion Chamoru ("The Chamorro Nation") maga lahi Ben Garrido is against Bill 259. He told KUAM News, "I think this bill is gonna destroy our fight for our rights to Chamoru self-determination." Garrido feels that instead of introducing this bill Senator Klitzkie should have introduced a resolution to begin decolonization and self-determination, adding, "This bill is to me is like we Chamorus, except to be under colonialism, and that if we want to change something we have to ask Washington to or beg them for assistance and this is not right."

On the other hand, Senator Klitzkie says his bill puts more power in the hands of Guam's people, explaining that the only way to amend the Act now is to ask a member of Congress to introduce a bill and then have that bill passed into law. Further defending his legislation he said, "If Bill 259 became law then we wouldn't have to go to Congress we could make amendments to the Organic Act right here on Guam."

Former chairman of the Democratic Party of Guam Attorney Mike Phillips says he's opposed to the bill because it's an illegitimate attempt to resolve a controversial issue: whether or not Guam should adopt the Organic Act as a means of self-determination. "As I mentioned to the senators, the most offensive part of the Organic Act isn't a specific section, it's the fact that it doesn't contain the words 'we the people' and because the people did not draft it the people did not consent to be governed in that fashion, it's an illegitimate document."

Senator Klitzkie says that Guam has had the ability to draft a constitution since 1976, but when we did draft one it was defeated, and Guam has not attempted to do so again since. "The intent of the bill is not to undermine the quest for self-determination, political status, change, etc. The idea is to give us more control over our own destiny here instead of having to go to congress every time we want what amounts to local law changed," the veteran policymaker said.

Phillips says that the problem with Klitzkie's bill is that it would in essence tell Congress once and for all that the people of Guam accept the Organic Act, an act whose fundamental flaw is that it's not drafted by the very people that it governs. "In any fashion of government whether you decide you want a king, or you want a president, or me and you want to share power the fundamental requirement is that the governed has to consent if you don't have the consent of the governed, you have no legitimacy."

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