Residents line up to process their unemployment benefits applications at the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance center at the Dededo Public Library on Dec. 10. Dontana Keraskes/The Guam Daily Post

The last time Manuel Tagle III heard from the Guam Department of Labor about his unemployment aid application, he said, was about three months ago.

He filed his unemployment claim in July, he said, but was told in September that the application was “under review.”

“It has been that long since I last heard from them,” the 33-year-old father of four said Wednesday.

He’s hoping Labor will get back to him for an update on the status of his Pandemic Unemployment Assistance application.

Prior to the pandemic, Tagle was a tourism transfer guide and driver. His wife worked for the census during the lockdown.

“And we are scraping the bottom to find ways to pay for necessities. So we are almost tapped out in terms of funds,” he said. His youngest child is 1 year old, and the oldest is 12.

With Christmas just around the corner, Tagle is looking forward to receiving unemployment assistance so his family can get by this holiday.

He’s upgrading his skills so he can get a new job. Right now, he said, he’s attending a program at Guam Community College to help him get a tractor-trailer license.

“So once I successfully complete the course and get my C license, I already have job opportunities waiting,” he said.

Tagle is among PUA claimants who have not received any federal unemployment assistance since the payments started in June, even as most of the 27,000 claimants have already been receiving benefits.

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Others who also have not been paid and reached out to The Guam Daily Post asked to remain anonymous, and said they will try to send an email to Labor once again.

There are also those who have been trying to get a face-to-face appointment with Labor’s PUA staff, so they can either file an initial PUA claim or fix problems with their claims filed months ago.

Rese Johnson said her husband Carlton was furloughed, on and off, starting in August, and has since been trying to file a PUA claim.

“We were having a hard time trying to file his claim online. Everyone else received PUA while we hadn’t,” she said Wednesday.

After several attempts at contacting Labor, her husband finally secured an appointment with Labor’s PUA Center at the Dededo Public Library on Friday. They’re hopeful the claim will be successfully filed to help the family get through these challenging times.

Renson Paulus, 31, also has yet to receive any unemployment assistance because of an “outstanding issues” with his claim, his wife said.

“I called many times,” his wife said. “Just last week, they (Labor) answered and made his appointment on the 23rd of December at the Dededo Library.”

The couple hopes to get at least the initial unemployment assistance before the end of the year. PUA covers unemployment only up to Dec. 26.

A special call out

Guam Labor Director David Dell’Isola said on Wednesday the department is reaching out to those who have not received any PUA payment “at all,” and is encouraging them to immediately email Labor at [email protected] with their full name and claim number.

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“That’s why we had a special call-out to those who have not received any benefit yet,” he said. “They are harder to find. We want them to be ahead of the line.”

Labor is specifically reaching out to those who filed their initial PUA claim in late May, June, July, August and September, and have not received any payment yet.

But those who filed only in October and with no outstanding issues in their claims could get their payments next week.

Governor’s directive

Those who filed their initial or weekly PUA claims from Oct. 2 through Dec. 9, will likely receive their unemployment benefits before Christmas, Dell’Isola said, unless their claim has issues.

Labor was preparing to batch claims Wednesday night.

This is in line with the governor’s directive to pay as much PUA and Lost Wages Assistance as soon as possible before Christmas, Dell’Isola said.

The payments should be able to hit the banks or mailboxes next week. This covers nearly two and a half months of claims, but Dell’Isola said the amount may not be as substantial as the prior releases because the number of new claims has gone down

After next week’s payment, Labor is almost caught up with the weekly claims, despite massive fraudulent claims attacking the system regularly.

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