By Troy Torres
Democratic senators, who comprise the majority of the members of the Guam Legislature, thus far are refusing to discuss their stance on police corruption and answer questions of accountability related to their colleague, Democrat Sen. Jose "Pedo" Terlaje.
Sen. Terlaje, two of his sons, and his granddaughter have been the subject of intense public scrutiny over the past year. The controversies began, when FBI Special Agent Rafael Fernandez stated in federal court that Joey Terlaje, the senator's son, was the subject of a federal corruption investigation. His granddaughter, Guam Police officer Joneen Terlaje, was involved in the crash of a red Jeep that destroyed Jerry's Kitchen more than a month ago. Another of his sons, Joshua Kinene Terlaje, who is a convicted felon, was arrested recently on gun-related charges. Sen. Terlaje's office lied about Joneen Terlaje's involvement in the crash. The senator unethically used his oversight powers to try to get answers about pending matters involving Joey Terlaje from court officials during an oversight hearing.
Kandit Wednesday morning sent the following questions to Speaker Therese Terlaje, Vice Speaker Tina Muna Barnes, and Sens. Amanda Shelton, Telena Nelson, Joe San Agustin, Sabina Perez, and Clynt Ridgell:
In light of the Jerry’s Kitchen incident and other incidences we have raised to you in the past that have increased the public perception of police corruption... are you concerned about police corruption on our island? Why or why not?
If you are concerned about police corruption, and you do share community concern about the Jerry’s Kitchen incident... do you continue to have confidence in your fellow Democrat, Sen. Jose Terlaje, to lead the public safety committee you all elected him to lead?
NOT. ONE. OF THEM. HAS. RESPONDED.
Kandit called all of their offices to follow up. The staffers of the offices of the Speaker, and senators Nelson, Muna Barnes, San Agustin, and Ridgell took messages for their bosses and said they will relay the questions for the senators to respond. None of those senators have called.
No one answered the phones at the offices of Sens. Shelton and Perez.
Despite the public outcry in the wake of allegations of corruption and an arrest within Sen. Jose "Pedo" Terlaje's family, the Democratic Party of Guam does not expect for him to resign from office.
Mr. Terlaje is the senator with oversight of the Guam Police Department. He tried to wield his oversight authority recently in a hearing, where he attempted to get court officials to answer questions about allegations of corruption against his son, Joey Terlaje.
"We don't expect to have any Democrats leave the legislature," Democratic Party chairwoman Sarah Thomas Nededog confirmed to Kandit News Monday.
We asked Ms. Nededog whether she has spoken directly with Sen. Terlaje, and whether her party acknowledges the public outcry and the loss of confidence and trust in the senator.
"Very busy with our homeless project," Ms. Nededog replied. "Have not spoken to Senator Pedo this week."
Asked whether her party is aware of a federal investigation into Sen. Terlaje's son Joey Terlaje, she replied, "Don't know anything about investigations on Joey."
It was widely reported in Guam media that FBI Special Agent Rafael Fernandez twice mentioned Joey Terlaje as the subject of a federal corruption probe during a public trial in the U.S. District Court of Guam. Guam media also widely reported allegations against Joey Terlaje made by Vickilyn Manglona (Teregeyo) and in the Mark Mayo federal trial.
Sen. Terlaje's ability to maintain oversight of the public safety committee has come under scrutiny since these allegations made against his son and then his granddaughter's involvement in the crash of a red Jeep that destroyed Jerry's Kitchen. His office lied to the public at first, saying his granddaughter, Guam Police officer Joneen Terlaje, was a post-crash spectator, and not a party to the crash. Within days of that crash, the senator's other son, Joshua Kinene Terlaje, was arrested on gun-related charges.
Joshua Terlaje is a convicted felon, and is prohibited from possessing a firearm. At the time of his arrest, according to administration officials, officers did not know he was a convicted felon. He was only booked and released, and not confined as would normally happen if a convicted felon was found with a gun.
The Office of the Attorney General of Guam is searching its files to determine whether the officers, who made the arrest, sent the report to the OAG for possible prosecution after learning Joshua Terlaje is a convicted felon.