Thursday, June 27, 2013

Ben P on Gambling

Si Ben Pangelinan i mas ya-hu na Senadot gi i Liheslatura. Gi entre todu i mampulikat Guahan, Guiya i mas hihot sumopopotte "Independence" para i mamamailan Guahan. Guiya i mas gaitiningo' gi i Liheslatura put kosas decolonization. Annai i pumalu gi halom i gubetnamenton Guahan yan gi entre i pulitikat ma yute' i "decolonization registry" ya ti ma atetende, i ofisina-na kumatga ayu. Gi fairs yan otro na events publiko, fihu manannok i i fafacho'cho' gi ofisina-na gi un lamasa. Manreregister taotao siha para i registry.

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Gambling with the people’s trust

OVER the past several elections, the people of Guam have resoundingly voiced their opposition against gambling and gaming initiatives that have been proposed, that all promised monetary benefits for the community in exchange for the negative social effects that gambling brings upon our families. It was as recent as the November 2012 elections that the people defeated the latest gaming initiative, to which myself and all my colleagues voiced our opposition to the gaming initiative.
What we have seen over the past week is political mischief afoot within the halls of the Legislature to which those senators that were purportedly against gambling just a short seven months ago, have revealed their true colors. The policy surrounding gambling on Guam has been stuck in the gray area, with several exceptions to the law that have allowed for certain types of gaming and gambling to occur. The arguments that have arisen in the previous legislative session has been to paint this policy as either black or white; either you are for or against gambling altogether.
Bill 19 as amended, the heavily debated legislation that was unanimously passed by the Legislature, has been the medium from which public and legislative discussion has ensued regarding gaming and gambling on Guam. The original intent of Bill 19 was to assess an increased tax rate on limited gaming, but was muddled with the inclusion of the controversial Bill 20, which would have legitimized almost 500 gaming machines that the Attorney General had already deemed illegal. This would have effectively legalized a monopoly for the owners of those specified gaming machines indefinitely.
It continues to be unfortunate that the governor authorized the Department of Revenue and Taxation (RevTax) to issue licenses for these gaming machines, even though the chief legal officer of the government of Guam had explicitly stated that such machines are illegal. At least a couple of attempts to remove references in the bill to the controversial and challenged rules and regulations, which were the basis used by RevTax to issue the licenses, were defeated. I introduced an amendment to Bill 19 that would have revoked these illegitimate gaming machine licenses once the Guam Memorial Hospital debt, as reported in Bill 20 as Exhibit A, was paid. My amendment was further amended to cease all gaming, limited gaming, and gambling on Guam once the GMH debt, as reported in Bill 20 as Exhibit A, was paid. These amendments all passed and Bill 19,inclusive of these amendments, passed unanimously.
Unfortunately this black and white approach was too drab for these colorful, pro-gambling senators; therefore they have gone on the attack against me and others attempting to falsify the official legislative record that my amendment and the passed Bill 19 did not include an Exhibit A, which would therefore allow the current legal gaming, limited gaming, and gambling industry on Guam to exist in perpetuity. Of course, this was not the case, as my amendment was clearly and specifically stated on the session floor to incorporate Exhibit A with the GMH debt clearly outlined.
This was clearly understood by the majority of the senators who supported the final amendment and the final Bill 19. The senators who lost the battle to stop the amendment knew this and still voted for the bill, only now to reveal their true intentions and motivations.
I have written to the acting Speaker that if the will of these colorful, pro-gambling senators is too strong to include Exhibit A before transmittal of Bill 19 to the governor, then it would be prudent to return to session and, again, attach Exhibit A to the bill.
It is unfortunate that this gamble with the people’s trust and sentiments against gaming and gambling has occurred within the halls of the Legislature. Nonetheless, I will continue the work for the people and it is my hope that the people hear the truth, know the truth, and uphold the truth.
Si Yu’us Ma’åse’

Senator Vicente (ben) Cabrera Pangelinan

Committee on Appropriations, Public Debt, Legal Affairs, Retirement, Public Parks, Recreation, Historic Preservation
and Land.

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