Guam: Governor urges redraft of language bill

Harold Schiffman hfsclpp at
Sat Sep 29 14:33:44 UTC 2007

Sunday September 30, 2007

Fitial urges redraft of language bill

By Agnes E. Donato
Reporter <>

Gov. Benigno has vetoed legislation that would have reformed the
Chamorro-Carolinian Language Policy Commission. Fitial said the program as
established in the bill would be difficult to administer. He urged the
Legislature to redraft the bill to address the management issues.
House Bill 15-229, sponsored by Rep. Candido Taman, sought to amend the 1982
Language Commission Act.

The bill was intended to address the decline of the islands' native
languages and the "systematic lack of interest and commitment" among the
commissioners throughout the past decade. It proposed to reduce the number
of commissioners from 12 to 8. Under the bill, all of the commissioners must
be of Chamorro or Carolinian descent, proficient in either language, and
living in the CNMI. The bill also proposed to form a certification committee
on Chamorro and Carolinian translators to ensure translations of official
documents are consistent with the adopted orthography and dictionary of the
Chamorro and Carolinian languages.

Furthermore, the legislation offered to provide funding for language
programs and clarify the commission's status with the Department of the
Community and Cultural Affairs. "I fully support the objectives of this bill
and wish that I was able to approve it," said Fitial. However, he said the
Office of Personnel Management had raised concern about the creation of a
language division within DCCA. "My [OPM] believes that the bill confuses the
reporting and authority relationships with the DCCA and creates an
unworkable management situation for the secretary," Fitial said. He said he
agreed with the concern and urged the Legislature to review the bill and
work with administration representatives in redrafting the bill.

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