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EDITORIAL: Shame on you, leaders of the Marianas

By Troy Torres

(Tumon, Guam) There's a common theme among many of the elected officials in Guam and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands regarding the legal troubles facing former Yona Mayor Jesse Blas and Gov. Ralph Torres: that they're "innocent until proven guilty."

This legal system hallmark, as American as it comes, has been used among the political elite of the Marianas to distinguish themselves from the rat race of life they ironically have been entrusted to improve.

For months, the Guam Legislature and Gov. Lou Leon Guerrero have wrangled over the fate of the office of the Yona Mayor since Jesse Blas's federal detention following his indictment. His political friends and those too afraid to speak truthfully about the matter at hand excused Mr. Blas's actions - documented by cold-hard evidence and FBI recordings - as simple allegations of misconduct. He is innocent until proven guilty, rang the refrain from the political peanut gallery.

For months, the Republicans of the Commonwealth Legislature and Gov. Ralph Torres's cronies have been singing this same tired song: "He is innocent until proven guilty." They should ask Bobbi Brown to rap it for them.

Innocent. Oh yeah? What about everyone else accused of one thing or another, their names dragged through the mud in the media and these same government morons calling for the hangman's noose before the ink settles on plea agreements that most of the time are the result of hopelessness in justice rather than actual guilty?

Why is it that when a common citizen is accused of something, she is automatically spat upon by the political elite and their media fatcats, but when an elected official is handcuffed or his home and office raided for probable cause, he is - let's all rap it together - 'innocent until proven guilty.'

Shame on them, because as they profess their undying support for their political friends of corruption, they're calling the very brave ordinary citizens who are witnesses to the corrupt acts liars. Let's not forget that Jesse Blas went down by the testimony of three women who placed themselves in harm's way to help the federal government catch this crook. Sure, they made their own mistakes in life, but they continue to atone for them in ways that has broken the barrier between the corrupt and the justice that's about to piss on them like acid rain.

All of these women were threatened under the color of law to be disposed of like slaves to a tyrant master. Police officers, Guam Marshals, and political leaders threatened them. One of them was even held against her will as a prisoner in Jesse Blas's own home. And our senators and governor, despite all the evidence that these things happened, just kept singing, he's 'innocent until proven guilty.'

Well, look who's singing now.

Shame on them - those entrusted by the people of Commonwealth to their perches at Capitol Hill - for calling those who've been brave enough to bring forward evidence of Ralph Torres's corruption liars.

Perhaps the greatest shame has been showered on us all, in that our elected governments have failed so miserably at rooting out corruption that it takes a federal agency from the national government to stamp it out for us. We are 60-year-old children expecting our Washington parents to fend for us.

So much for self government.

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