Tuesday, April 07, 2015

Tiyan Ta'lo yan Ta'lo' yan Ta'lo'lo

The issue of Tiyan has been constant my entire conscious life, but has shifted so much over time. When I was younger it was a base one that I remember visiting several times. As I got older it became an issue of protest, the site of the most infamous protest act in modern times, the jumping of the fence by Angel Santos and others and their subsequent arrest where he spat on an officer. When I returned to Guam after living in the states for several years Tiyan had been returned to the Government of Guam and everything about it was different now. Before I left Tiyan was thought of as a beautiful place, that had the military "betde na cha'guan" luster that brightens the eyes of so many locals. Once it had been returned it began to symbolize something else, decay and incompetence of the Government of Guam. I found it interesting that the toxic chemicals in the area were put there by the US military, but people seemed to ascribe its disgusting qualities instead to the local government.

In the time since Tiyan has been a site for the return of Chamorro lands and also a site for the continued fight for compensation for the postwar landtaking by the US military. Below are a number of articles about the struggle of the Manduenon Tiyan from various media sources.


Tiyan landowners continue fight
Apr. 5, 2015 2:36 AM
Written by Gaynor Dumat-ol Daleno
Pacific Sunday News

While some Tiyan ancestral landowners have regained property they lost a half-century ago, there are others who continue to fight for the land in federal court.'

Based on a recent court schedule, it could take more than a year from now for a case addressing the issue to be resolved -- unless the two sides settle out of court.

The lawsuit filed for the Tiyan land claim of Vicente "Benny" P. Crawford -- and other ancestral landowners in the same situation -- is tentatively scheduled for trial in September 2016, a scheduling report filed Thursday states.

Guam's airport agency and government of Guam officials, including Gov. Eddie Calvo, are the named defendants in the lawsuit.

The airport agency is expected to argue that many, if not all, of the original landowners, or their heirs, were twice compensated by the U.S. government, the report filed in the U.S. District Court of Guam states.

The Tiyan ancestral landowners were forced off their land by Japanese occupiers, and when World War II ended, the U.S. government took control of the land, which became a Naval air station and subsequently Guam's only international airport.
The U.S. government has relinquished control of the Tiyan properties through the base closure process.

The lawsuit challenges GovGuam's decision to return land to some ancestral landowners, even after they were compensated, but not to others, like Crawford's family.

The lawsuit contends that Crawford's rights under the Due Process Clause and Equal Protection Clause of the U.S. Constitution were violated because his family was treated differently.

The plaintiff also alleges breach of contract because GovGuam had initially agreed, through a local law, to allow the Crawford family and other ancestral landowners to receive a land swap, or another form of compensation.

Part of the land where the Guam airport, including the runway, sits, used to be owned by Crawford's ancestors, documents for the plaintiff state.

Some of the landowners of Tiyan who've regained their land have since resold their property.

One of them was the former ancestral landowner of property near the airport hangars.
The Navy had given the land to GovGuam, and GovGuam returned it to its original landowner, which sold to Core Tech. Core Tech resold the land to GovGuam for almost $200 million, and part of it is being used for Tiyan High School's campus.


Tiyan landowners take issue to federal court
Posted: Jan 20, 2015 4:30 PM Updated: Jan 20, 2015 4:30 PM
 by Sabrina Salas Matanane

Guam - From public laws to lawsuits that have gone nowhere, it seems Tiyan Ancestral Landowners are tired of being ignored and have taken their concerns to federal court.  Tiyan landowner Benny Crawford has filed a class action complaint seeking compensation for the airport's continued use of their land which they have never been compensated for.  According to court documents in fiscal year 2012 the airport received more than $66 million in revenue of which four million was through rental of airport properties. Tiyan Ancestral Landowners argue they haven't received a single penny of this money, “ despite the tremendous value of, and the revenues generated by, the Tiyan ancestral lands, neither the government of Guam nor the GIAA has provided compensation to the Tiyan landowners for the use of Tiyan ancestral lands for airport operations.”  Named as defendants in the class action complaint are GIAA Board Chairperson Ed Untalan, Governor Eddie Baza Calvo and Guam Ancestral Lands Commission Chairperson Anita Orlino


Tuesday, 20 January 2015
Class Action Lawsuit Filed for Airport Property
Written by Janela Carrera

A class action lawsuit has been filed in District Court by the original Tiyan landowners for compensation over property now being used by the Guam Airport Authority.

Guam - It may have been over 70 years ago when their land was taken, but the original Tiyan landowners are not giving up without a fight. On behalf of some 78 estates, Benny Crawford has filed a class action lawsuit against the Guam International Airport Authority and the government of Guam for taking over their Tiyan property without ever compensating them.

It’s the first ever class action suit filed by a certain faction of dispossessed Tiyan ancestral land landowners and it’s also the first time that the Guam International Airport Authority has been named or involved. 

"This came about the fact that over the years, we’ve followed the law we’ve been up front, we’ve been ethical with all that we did thinking that the spirIt of the law would prevail," says Crawford.

Crawford and other Tiyan landowners who own property adjacent to where the airport’s runway sits say they have never been compensated. The land was condemned by the US government right before World War II, then some decades later after the military stronghold slowly decreased in size on Guam, some of the land was returned, but it was returned to the Government of Guam.

Instead of returning the property back to its original and rightful owners, the land was used for other government purposes, one of the biggest projects of which is the building of the AB Won Pat International Airport. Now GovGuam did recognize, throughout the years, that the land truly belonged to the landowners and in fact made some genuine but futile attempts at compensation.

"They implemented a law to facilitate compensation for the landowners. Then it didn’t work, so they facilitated another one, and then they implemented another one and they implemented [another one], and throughout the years I think they came up with 10, 12, 15 laws to give us compensation but not once did we receive any penny," Crawford explains.

In the process, says Crawford, other Tiyan landowners, who are not part of the Airport runway faction, were compensated. Some of the properties have since been appraised and sold, a one such parcel is the land in which CoreTech now sits. Crawford points out in his lawsuit that the owners of that property sold it to a private developer in 2007 for $11 million and in a matter of 6 years, the property went right back to GovGuam--the government bought in December 2013 for at least $150 million in tax credits.

The lawsuit does not name a price and there’s a reason behind that. The ancestral lands are now under FAA control; there’s no way that Crawford and other landowners could have it properly appraised.

"For me it’s not the issue of money, it’s the issue of fairness. That’s why we went for the land for land exchange and matter of fact there’s parcels of land that we got for land exchange that didn’t have any infrastructure. They were undeveloped so it would’ve cost us a whole lot of money to get it going and we were willing to do that," he says.

Crawford is referring to another attempt he and other landowners made at receiving some sort of compensation. In 2009 Crawford says they agreed to a land exchange with the government. But that deal fell through after other landowners intervened and a permanent injunction blocked the transfer.

"These past 4 years we’ve lost a lot of landowners. They’ve all died and I mean I’m one of the youngest and I’m 69. So a lot of them have passed away and if we were to go through another process again I don’t know if the other landowners, even myself, would make it," Crawford points out.

Crawford has scheduled a landowners meeting at Harvest Christian Academy on Saturday at 10:30 in the morning


Wednesday, January 21, 2015 
Last Update: 10:46 AM PT

Guamanian Natives Want Their Land Back
Courthouse News Service
(CN) - Guam has not returned land that belongs to ancestral landowners, or provided compensation for it, a landowner claims in a federal class action.

     Guam is an unincorporated U.S. territory in the Western Pacific Ocean, and is the largest of the Marianas Islands. The Japanese occupied the area before the United States regained control of the islands during World War II. The U.S. Navy condemned and converted large sections of the island into military bases where the Antonio Won Pat International Airport now sits.

     The airport authority and Guam itself are the lead defendants in the federal complaint in Hagatna. Also sued are the territory's governor, the chairman of the airport board, and the chairwoman of the Guam Ancestral Lands Commission.

     The land the airport occupies was appraised at $51.2 million in 2000, making it some of the most valuable property in Guam, according to lead plaintiff Vicente Palacios Crawford.

     He claims the Guam International Airport Authority received $66.5 million in revenue in 2012, including $4 million in income through airport property rentals, and reported $52.5 million in operating income that year.

     Crawford says that instead of making money on renting the properties, they should be returned to the rightful owners, or the ancestral landowners should be properly compensated.

     Crawford owns lot 5204, in Tiyan, Barrigada. He says he filed an Ancestral Title and Compensation Application with the Guam Ancestral Lands Commission and a Claim of Interest with the Department of Land Management, which was verified by both agencies, but has not been compensated for the airport's use of his family's land.

     Lands taken by the U.S. government during World War II were handed back to the Guam government in 1945 under the Guam Land Transfer Act. Crawford concedes that some of the land has since been returned to landowners, but not all.

     "Since the passage of the Guam Land Transfer Act, the U.S. has transferred excess lands to the government of Guam as its military operations in Guam decreased," the complaint states. "Although Guam has returned many of those properties to its ancestral landowners, it retains possession of large amounts of ancestral land. The ancestral landowners whose lands have not been returned to them are referred to 'dispossessed ancestral landowners.'"

     Crawford says the families who have not had their land returned, or have not been compensated, face an unfair system to determine compensation rights.

     "The procedures Guam has established to compensate dispossessed ancestral landowners ... (i) place the burden of obtaining compensation on the landowners, (ii) arbitrarily limit the sources and amount of compensation, and (iii) provide no mechanism for determining the value of ancestral land claims and the compensation owed," according to the complaint. "Ancestral landowners whose property the government of Guam retains have not had their lands returned and have not received full compensation."

     Crawford seeks class certification, wants the court to order the government to treat the class the same as the other ancestral landowners who have received "complete relief," by properly valuing their claims and providing "full" compensation.

     He also seeks disgorgement of the money the government made by its use of the class's lands, and damages for breach of contract and unjust enrichment.

     He is represented by Ignacio Aguigui, in Tamuning, Guam; and Daniel Girard and Scott Grzenczyk, with Girard Gibbs, in San Francisco.

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