Detractors of Aguon's whistleblower bill say protections already - KUAM.com-KUAM News: On Air. Online. On Demand.

Detractors of Aguon's whistleblower bill say protections already exist

Posted: Jun 14, 2018 4:30 PM Updated:

A new bill may reinforce whistleblower protections for government employees - that's according to its author, gubernatorial candidate Senator Frank Aguon, Jr. But critics of the bill say there are already enough safeguards in place for government employees who come forward with info about fraud, waste and abuse.

Aguon holding a press conference on the steps of the Legislature, saying a "tidal wave of corruption" from the Calvo/Tenorio administration has swept over the island. From the Chamorro Land Trust controversies to recent testimony from doctors about corruption and mismanagement at GMH - Aguon saying an avalanche of allegations from former administration employees Troy Torres, Ray Topasna and Ted Lewis and even doctors from GMH warrants reinforcement of existing whistleblower protections.

Aguon then responding to Lt. Governor Ray Tenorio - also a gubernatorial candidate - saying Aguon's bill wasn't necessary. "He has done nothing to address the issues at Chamorro Land Trust, he has done nothing to address the alleged corruption that has been exposed by two professional doctors, he has done nothing to address the raiding of special funds - which is not authorized by law - then that tells me he is abdicating his responsibility and he is contributing to the situation," Aguon said.

Despite an orchestra of whistles being blown - the Calvo/Tenorio administration has consistently claimed allegations of corruption or mismanagement are "falsehoods" or "misrepresentations of fact".

We asked Adelup communications director Oyaol Ngirairikl if calling all whistleblowers liars would make other GovGuam employees hesitant to come forward and expose corruption. "Not at all, we're just laying the truth out there and people can decide for themselves," Ngirairikl said. When asked if his bill was redundant, Aguon said it "reinforces" existing law. The bill - according to Aguon - expands whistleblowers protection to include protection from "retaliation" like "unfavorable or inequitable treatment" - it is unclear if the broad definition of "unfavorable and inequitable" will be a problem when it comes to enforcement of these protections.

Aguon also called for an amendment to Senator Dennis Rodriguez's GMH investigation resolution - asking Rodriguez to add an investigation of the Chamorro Land Trust to it. Aguon referencing controversies unearthed by KUAM News investigative reports. Rodriguez telling KUAM News he's seen Aguon's request, but he wants to "be careful not to inject politics into this whole thing - our resolution was very focused on GMH."

Ngirairikl meanwhile alarmed at the slew of allegations being tossed around - saying timing is definitely a factor. "If you see something, you should say something - you absolutely should say something," Ngrirairikl said. "I would think that you would say something right then and there - and not wait until a gubernatorial election year to do so."

Aguon firing back - saying questioning the timing of allegations is a cop out. "I think it's unfortunate that when public employees or former public employees come out with claims of corruption or fraudulent activities that you start looking it as smearing and as politicking in an election year," Aguon said.

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