Marianas Variety

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    Wednesday, June 19, 2019-7:13:12P.M.

     

     

     

     

     

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‘Honor our forefathers on Covenant Day’

TODAY, Monday, the CNMI is celebrating the 43rd anniversary of the Covenant which made the islands part of the U.S.

In separate interviews, Lt. Gov. Arnold I. Palacios, Speaker Blas Jonathan T. Attao and Second Marianas Political Status Commission Chairman Pete P. Reyes urged the local people to honor “our forefathers” on Covenant Day and value its principles.

Palacios’ father, the late Dr. Francisco T. Palacios, was among the members of the first Marianas Political Status Commission which negotiated the Covenant with the U.S.

The lt. governor said the Commonwealth government created by the Covenant is “fairly young,” but has come a long way already.

“We still have a lot of things that we need to address, of course. But by and large, we want to celebrate this day by respectfully recognizing our forefathers who had the vision to get us on this path.”

Reyes, a former senator, said although they are again looking into the islands’ political status, “it does not mean we don’t like the current relationship — but the people have the right to reassess it, and that gave birth to the Second Marianas Political Status Commission which will give the people the opportunity to voice their concerns.”

Speaker Attao, who was born four years after the signing of the Covenant, said celebrating it also means “recognizing our founding fathers for working with their U.S. counterparts to make the NMI a member of the U.S. political family.”

Attao said he and other lawmakers will continue to improve the CNMI’s political relationship with the U.S. and help make the Commonwealth a more productive member of the American political family.

Unique relationship

In a statement, Gov. Ralph DLG Torres said:

“For 43 years, our Commonwealth has undergone numerous changes through its unique relationship in political union with the United States made possible by our Covenant.

“We remember pivotal negotiations over the course of 27 months from December 1972 to February 1975 by the Marianas Political Status Commission, made up of representatives of the Northern Mariana Islands, and a delegation representing the United States.

“We also look back at our most recent 902 consultations to discuss matters of great importance to our economic viability and our strategic role in the Pacific.

“Whether it be for better or for worse, our young government has experienced numerous achievements and changes through the federal government’s actions and interventions, but we remain resilient and hopeful for years to come.

“Today, we honor the framers of our Covenant for their courage and foresight in the creation of one of the most unique political documents in history, in which a group of 14 islands in the Western Pacific negotiated on equal terms with the United States for the hope of a better future for their children and their grandchildren.

“Let’s continue to advocate for the best interests of the Marianas together.”

NMI ‘on the right way’

In a separate statement, Saipan Mayor David M. Apatang said the Northern Marianas is assured even more today than 43 years ago that it’s on the right way as a U.S. Commonwealth.

“We must honor the forward vision of our Covenant negotiators, the U.S. government and President Gerald R. Ford for signing the Covenant into U.S. Public Law No. 94-241 on that historic and important day on March 24, 1976,” he said as he joins the CNMI in celebrating the anniversary of the Covenant today, Monday.

He noted the NMI’s “fresh beginning from a simple island community to what would become a very complex and diversified community of different ethnicities.”

On June 17, 1975, he said the people of the Northern Mariana Islands, “armed with the promise of a brighter future, an educated future, a sophisticated future, a future filled with hopes and dreams of better and responsible government, better education system, better health care, economic growth and prosperity, approved the dream to become a contributing member of the U.S.”

Of the 94 percent of all registered NMI voters who cast ballots in the plebiscite on July 17, 1975, 78.8 percent voted to approve the Covenant.

“Our people knew that their hopes and dreams would come with sacrifices, with giving up a portion of their old ways of living, the feeling of total independence, their limited resources,” the mayor said.

“But the hopes and promises of something better, something readily and immediately available, something that other territories might not have and never had, convinced the people to approve the Covenant.”

Apatang said today, the NMI’s political relationship with the U.S. “is still in its nascent phase.”

“We are still searching for the promises and hopes our fathers and mothers dreamed for us. No doubt, we are on the right path and have reached countless milestones,” the mayor added.

Apatang encourages the people of the CNMI to remember “the many sacrifices and hard work that the past generations had unselfishly committed and performed to establish the Commonwealth we have today, which we proudly call home.”