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Former Gov. Calvo: Oversight officials' silence 'deafening'

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HAGÅTÑA (The Guam Daily Post) — Former Republican Gov. Eddie Calvo, who served the two terms preceding Democratic Gov. Lou Leon Guerrero's administration, said he is concerned by a lack of oversight of the executive branch during the Covid-19 pandemic.

“Never in my time as a governor or as a senator have I seen such silence from a legislature or a public auditor or an attorney general,” he said, adding: “The silence has been deafening.”

Leon Guerrero's office didn't see the need to comment on Calvo's statements.

"I stopped listening to Eddie Calvo interviews in 2018," said Carlo Branch, Leon Guerrero's policy director.

The former governor was also interviewed Tuesday on KUAM and K-57.

Calvo said while a Democratic majority in the Legislature could potentially mean a “harmony of interests” with the executive branch, there is potential for a downside.

“Sometimes the harmony of the parties is not in harmony with the public’s interests, or it may conflict with the public’s interests,” he said.

He said the Republican minority needs to be more involved in the process of dealing with the Covid-19 crisis.

“In a pandemic or an attack against Guam, whether it is natural or man-made, (you're) supposed to throw away the partisanship. I am very concerned about the sound of silence because it appears all of the major branches of government are controlled by one party,” Calvo said.

The former governor made a point to stress that he is an “armchair quarterback” who does not have intimate knowledge of decisions made by the current administration. He said he began to have concerns when Covid-19 was at its early stage in February and as the virus spread to South Korea, which is one of the main sources of tourists for Guam.

“Obviously, if it was becoming a health emergency in South Korea, and there are about 60,000 to 65,000 coming each month into Guam, you can put two and two together,” he said of tourist arrivals.

Calvo said the current administration's efforts appear reactionary.

A plan of action to deal with the pandemic seems to have “evolved on a daily basis,” said Calvo.

'Discombobulation'

“Sometimes even in one day — depending on who you talk to — there are even contradictory messages coming out. I am very concerned there seems to be some discombobulation and a lack of coordination,” he said.

How the plan is disseminated to the public is also important, said Calvo, who mentioned, as an example, when reporters were muted when trying to ask questions during a press conference.

“I have never seen that occur — not in a democracy. You do not censor, you do not mute reporters,” he said, adding, “If the issue is on Covid-19 relief and someone asks a question on economic relief, that question is valid. It's up to the media, and the governor and her people to ensure they are free for access for all information to the public.”

Calvo was not entirely critical.

He said some edicts by the executive branch to stem the spread of the virus that causes Covid-19 do seem to be working.

“Maybe we should have shut things down a little more quickly, but I think the people of Guam, based on what was coming from leadership, did self-contain ourselves,” he said.

Yet, aid for displaced workers and the homeless should have been a higher priority, said Calvo.

“There are many folks that have been out of a job for two months. We should have focused on that from the very beginning. ... They did too little a little too late,” he said.

Calvo said he is praying for Leon Guerrero and stressed the need for collaboration as Guam moves forward.

“I am hopeful we can work together and get through this crisis. We have gotten through a lot of crises before in the past...so I am confident we can,” Calvo said.

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