05 Jun 2013
- By Junhan B. Todeno - firstname.lastname@example.org - Variety News Staff
LEEWIN Camacho, a lawyer and cofounder of We are Guåhan, says the Department of Defense should consider all reasonable alternatives to Tinian and Pagan which are being considered by the military as possible training sites.
Camacho, who attended the scoping meeting conducted by the military on Saipan in April, submitted his comments to the military in Hawaii on May 13 and provided a copy to the Northern Islands mayor’s office.
In his comments, Camacho said the DoD is considering one option only for unit-level training, which is Tinian, and one option only for combined-level training, Pagan.
“This action appears to violate the letter and intent of National Environmental Policy Act, he said. “As seen in the scooping documents, DoD appears to have eliminated alternatives and limited alternatives to pre-selected options rather than using the scoping process to determine what alternatives should appear in the draft Environmental Impact Study,” he said.
He said DoD should “consider all reasonable alternatives, not just alternatives that it has pre-selected through the application of criteria without any detailed public information in the draft EIS.”
Camacho believes that DoD’s proposed actions will create a significant impact on the marine life, wildlife and coral of Tinian and Pagan, citing the comments submitted by the Department of Lands and Natural Resources.
He said the anticipated impact on the Marianas region as a whole “will be amplified by the existing military training that is part of the Military Intelligence Readiness Command, as well as the ongoing training on Guam.”
In particular, DoD’s proposed actions on Pagan will do “a significant and irreparable harm to the indigenous people who live there.
“DoD’s description of Pagan being ‘uninhabited’ is disingenuous. Pagan is not ‘uninhabited’ — it is waiting for its people to return,” Camacho said, adding that the military’s proposed action will displace the indigenous people of Pagan from their homes in violation of the laws enacted by the CNMI government to formally undertake their return to the volcanic island.
According to its website, “We Are Guåhan” is a “multi-ethnic collective of individuals, families and grassroots organizations concerned with the future of their island.”