Marianas Variety

Last updateFri, 28 Jun 2019 12am







    Thursday, June 27, 2019-12:23:11A.M.






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MPLT chairman questions CPA’s authority to negotiate divert lease

THE chairman of the Marianas Public Land Trust is questioning the Commonwealth Ports Authority’s authority to negotiate and receive money for a lease from the Department of Defense for its Tinian Divert Airfield project.

In a Dec. 4 letter to Department of Public Lands Secretary Marianne C. Teregeyo, MPLT Chairman Pedro R. Deleon Guerrero asked for a meeting with her and the advisory board to discuss his concerns.

Pedro R. Deleon Guerrero

Deleon Guerrero said he strongly believes that DPL, and not CPA, should be the prime entity to execute the lease and receive the $21 million in the interest of and for the benefit of the people of Northern Marianas descent.

CPA and the DoD earlier signed a purchase agreement for the lease of Tinian property that will be used for a Divert Airfield. The parties agreed that the DoD will make a onetime lease payment to CPA in the amount of $21 million.

But Deleon Guerrero said DPL should exercise its mandate under Public Law 15-2 and the CNMI Constitution to protect the interest of all persons of NMD, who are the rightful owners of such land pursuant to Article XI, Section 1 of the CNMI Constitution.

But attorney Kimberly King-Hinds, CPA board member and the legal counsel of the Tinian leadership, disagrees with Deleon Guerrero.

 “I have to respectfully disagree with the chairman’s position that DPL should be the entity to either enter into the lease or be the recipient of the proceeds of the said lease,” King-Hinds said in an interview Wednesday. “The property in question has been deeded to CPA so it is no longer public lands.  The property belongs to CPA.   This action by the government was taken as part of the [Federal Aviation Administration’s] condition that the property be owned by CPA to receive federal funds for port related infrastructure improvements.”

King-Hinds added that  “as part of the FAA’s grant assurance requirements, all proceeds derived from a lease such as this, must be used towards port related improvements and/or activities.    The proceeds of this lease will be used entirely to make infrastructure improvements at the Tinian ports.”

 King-Hinds added, “On a personal note, I want to remind the chairman of the sacrifice that the people of Tinian have made and continue to make by giving up 2/3 of the island for the benefit of the entire commonwealth.”

She said   Tinian has yet to see the benefit of the bargain of that agreement.  “Instead, we are now faced with having to fight to stop proposals from the DoD that will destroy our island and our way of life as NMD’s,” she added. “If he is intent on taking this money away from Tinian and the benefits it will bring not only to Tinian but the entire Commonwealth, then get ready for a fight because Tinian is ready. CPA is ready.”