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    Sunday, December 8, 2019-11:44:02P.M.






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Speaker urges Inos to oppose military use of Pagan

SPEAKER Joseph P. Deleon Guerrero yesterday prepared a joint resolution asking Gov. Eloy S. Inos to oppose all proposed use of Pagan and any increase in military activities in the Northern Islands.

The still unnumbered joint resolution will be pre-filed today.

Joseph Deleon Guerrero
Deleon Guerrero, IR-Saipan, is going next month to Washington, D.C. and the Pentagon where U.S. Congressman Gregorio Kilili Camacho Sablan will introduce him to other members of the U.S. Congress and arrange a meeting with top military officials.

In an interview yesterday, the speaker said he has accepted Sablan’s invitation and once they get to the nation’s capital, he will bring up with federal officials, among other things, the proposed military use of Pagan and other military activities in the rest of the Northern Islands.

He noted that the CNMI has made significant good faith efforts to honor its agreement with the U.S. in terms of cooperating with military training and accommodating the federal government’s concerns for the environment.

But the CNMI, he said, has legitimate concerns that certain proposed military operations on Pagan will have negative socio-economic, cultural concerns and resettlement consequences.

His resolutions states that the commonwealth already contributes to the national defense by being a strategic military defense asset in the Pacific region and by leasing its scarce real property including over two-thirds of Tinian, valued property in Tanapag and Farallon de Mendenilla for military training, maneuvers and live-fire bombings.

The resolution said the Legislature opposes the military’s proposed combined-unit live-fire trainings because “it is basically a military war game plan that demands continuous use and occupation of the entire island of Pagan for warfare functions.

“The wholesale militarization proposed for Pagan will permanently enjoin any meaningful opportunity for resettlement and sustainable community-building redevelopment by residents who are interested parties who have been vested with rights pursuant to CNMI public laws governing village and agriculture homesteads since the early 1970s and incorporated into Northern Islands Mayor Tobias DLC Aldan’s frontier resettlement and sustainable community-building strategic master plan,” the joint resolution stated.

“Pagan’s planned militarization is incompatible with the Pagan eco-tourism master plan envisioned in the Marianas Visitor Authority’s five-year master plan and Northern Marianas College Cooperative Research, Extension and Education Service’s agricultural master plan.”

The resolution said the proposed use by the military would adversely affect the 50- to 125-megawatt geothermal reservoir that exists on Pagan, which could support development and resettlement of the island. It would also threaten any efforts to harvest pozzolan which is used in making cement.

The resolution said the military road map covers not just the entire island of Pagan but also its coastlines and surrounding waters and airspace extending to the islands of Anatahan, Sariguan and as far north as Farallon De Fajaros.

“Contrary to the military’s self-serving claims, the CNMI secretary of Lands and Natural Resources claims that the significant increase in the live-fire aerial bombardment, naval surface fire support and raiding craft fire will 1) destroy the 1.7 mile long by 0.3 mile wide or 206-acre land and its surrounding prime bottom fishing reefs 2) accelerate erosion and the sedimentation of FDM’s surrounding reef causing physical damage to marine life added by underwater demolition, and 3) significantly increase contamination of surrounding waters from both exploded bomb residue and unexploded ordnance,” the resolution added.

“The impact on the local economy and collateral damage that military training brings to the local culture, geology, hydrology, and terrestrial biological resources and management are more than ancillary and should be considered integral components of militarization.”

The U.S. government is leasing FDM for $20,600 under the 1971 Use and Occupancy Agreement Act. This lease provided the U.S. military up to the present time, access, occupancy and unrestricted use of 83,000 square meters of FDM for live-fire and bombing exercises.