REPORT: Tydingco & Terlaje tried to smoke out whistleblowers to fire them
EDITOR'S NOTE: Kandit, as promised, brings to you this chronological series on the Port 7 scandal. This story of public corruption and political intrigue is the largest and longest-running political witch hunt in the history of the government of Guam. The story begins during the first year of the Eddie Calvo administration in 2011, and continues to this day. We are producing this investigative piece because of the age of this story and the many twists and details involved.
CHAPTER 1: It started with the blow of a whistle
CHAPTER 2: 'I was sent here to fire you'
By Troy Torres
The July 22, 2011 email from then-seaport corporate services manager Vivian Leon to then-Sen. Tom Ada blowing the whistle on the Calvo family's efforts to make millions off the YTK lease of government property led to a series of oversight hearings, where then-port chairman Dan Tydingco was made to answer to the conspiracy.
While Ms. Leon was calling the Legislature's attention to the corruption, then-marketing manager Bernadette Meno was letting the media know about the corruption. She emailed Steve Limtiaco with the Pacific Daily News on July 22, 2011, with information indicating that YTK was owned by the Calvo family and being represented by Jay Lather, the head of Calvo Development at the time. The news tip led to years of news stories that exposed the Calvos's ownership and dealings with the port. Ms. Meno also sent this information to then-Sen. Frank Blas, Jr., the legislative Republican leader at the time.
Mr. Ada scheduled an informational hearing for August 9 that year. The notice to all the parties went out in the last week of July, right after the revelations to the Legislature and to the PDN.
Mr. Ada responded to Ms. Leon:
Then-Gov. Eddie Calvo called a meeting with Mr. Tydingco, his chief of staff Franklin Arriola, and myself into a meeting in his chambers at Adelup upon his return from an off island trip. He demanded to know the source of the leak and why the issue was being raised by senators. "It's that bitch Bernadette, isn't it?" the governor asked, looking at me.
"It's Bernadette, I'm sure of it," Mr. Tydingco chimed in.
"Anisia is pretty certain that Bernadette and Vivian Leon are working together on this," Mr. Arriola said, referring to port deputy manager Anisia Terlaje.
On July 30, 2011, following phone calls and meetings between Mr. Ada and Mr. Tydingco, Ms. Leon wrote an email to Mr. Ada, memorializing a conversation she had with seaport board of directors member Jovyna Lujan, who was a holdover appointee from the Camacho administration:
"In Jovyna’s conversation with Dan, she expressed her concern of a strained relationship with your office. He kept stating that there is an internal leak within the Port that provides your office with information and does not understand why there was so much attention is being made on the Guam YTK issue. Jovyna told him that you were fully aware of the prior Board’s position on getting the property back; therefore, the new direction taken by the Board has raised some flags. She told him the Board needs to provide management with their clear goals and objectives so they can understand what expectations are required of them. She said he agreed to a working session with Board and management. She told him that before this is done, a gathering between Board members take place so everyone will know what is the direction." - Vivian Leon's email to Sen. Tom Ada
By this time, Ms. Terlaje was visiting Adelup every day to speak with the governor or to Mr. Arriola. The governor finally agreed to meet with her, and he called me into the meeting.
"It's Viv, gov," she exclaimed emphatically. "She's behind this. Pedro is not doing anything!" she said, referring to port general manager Pedro Leon Guerrero, Jr."
"That's why I've been talking to Frank to make me the GM and I'll get rid of her. You need me to get rid of Bernadette, I'll make it happen." - Anisia Terlaje to Gov. Eddie Calvo
To their credit, Mr. Calvo, Mr. Arriola, and Mr. Tydingco all understood that the law protects whistleblowers, so even if there was evidence of Ms. Leon and Ms. Meno providing factual information to the media and to senators, these were not fireable offenses. According to the Whistleblower Protection Act, these actually are reasons to protect Ms. Leon and Ms. Meno from any retribution by their superiors.
Mr. Calvo thanked Ms. Terlaje for her loyalty and spirit, but told her to instead watch Ms. Leon and Ms. Meno's movements closely.