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Guam attorney: ‘Native Chamorro’ not a racial reference

HAGÅTÑA (The Guam Daily Post) — Michael Phillips, the attorney designated to defend the Chamorro Land Trust Commission in a federal lawsuit filed by the Department of Justice, is arguing that the term “native Chamorro” used in local law stems from a political relationship determined by the U.S. Congress, and isn’t racial in nature.

Phillips cites a 1993 local court case, Santos v. Ada, in which he served as lead counsel against the government of Guam’s attempts to get the Chamorro Land Trust Act declared unconstitutional.

The Guam Code Annotated defines a “native Chamorro” as “any person who became a U.S. citizen by virtue of the authority of the Organic Act of Guam or descendants of such a person.”

This definition also excludes certain CHamorus and includes certain non-CHamorus, according to an amended answer submitted by Phillips last week Friday, in response to the DOJ complaint.

The federal suit alleges that the CLTC violated the federal Fair Housing Act by discriminating against non-CHamorus. Only native CHamorus qualify for CLTC land leases. Approximately 20,000 acres, or 15 percent of Guam’s total land area, fall under the control of the commission.