GovGuam working to resolve Manenggon monument land dispute - KUAM.com-KUAM News: On Air. Online. On Demand.

GovGuam working to resolve Manenggon monument land dispute

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The fate of the annual Manenggon Memorial ceremony still remains up in the air.

Every year hundreds of people including survivors of the Japanese Occupation of Guam during World War II, gather in Manenggon to honor the lives lost at the concentration camp.

But as we reported there's a dispute over the property causing a major roadblock to this year 75th Anniversary Liberation commemoration. Mark Colby, who represents the Mesa family, says they are the rightful owners not only where the Manenggon monument is located but also the access road leading to it. The Mesa family says the government has not paid a single penny for access and use, and never asked permission for a monument to be constructed on their land.

The issue has come to a head as planning is well underway for the annual memorial service. Colby says a meeting was held at the Department of Land Management on Wednesday. Acting Gov. Josh Tenorio chairs this year's Liberation Festivities.



"So Mr. Borja and Jess Garcia, the deputy of DPW, who is also an expert on rights of away, our meeting with those members of the family that are on island the ones that are actually residing in that area," he said. "This is a pretty large family there's some undivided interest but I'm pretty optimistic that we're doing the research to address the family's concern."

According to DLM Director Joe Borja, during the meeting, they presented the Mesa family their maps as well as aerial photos of the property. Borja added while it is true the access roads leading to the monument do belong to the Mesa family, he contends the land where the monument sits does not. Borja said the territorial surveyor will be conducting a survey of the properties in the near future as well another meeting will be held with the family next week.

According to the lieutenant governor, he's optimistic the matter will be resolved.


"I'm hopeful of course when you're dealing with big families you never know, but I think if we focus on the whole point of that memorial is to recognize the sacrifice of a large portion of our population," Lt. Gov. Josh Tenorio said. "I'm hoping that in that spirit we'll be able to facilitate the issues, but like I said, our team is working with them researching a lot of the concerns and I'm very optimistic that we'll be fine."

The Mesa family says they should be compensated for the use of their property.

The Manenggon Memorial Service is scheduled for July 7.

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