15 Jun 2016
- By Cherrie Anne E. Villahermosa - email@example.com - Variety News Staff
GOVERNOR Ralph D.L.G. Torres said military officials will visit Tinian for an on-site inspection.
He said Pete Potochney, assistant secretary of Defense for Energy, Installation and Environment and the deputy assistant secretary of Defense for Basing, will arrive this week accompanied by other military officials. Potochney was among the Obama administration officials who met recently with the governor’s 902 team in Washington, D.C.
The governor said he will join the visiting officials on Tinian and remind them what they earlier agreed to build on the island.
Torres was referring to a previous agreement between the CNMI and the Department of Defense regarding the construction of facilities that has yet to take place.
“What we agreed on will remain our agreement and we want that agreement fulfilled before we move on to other proposed projects. Everything that was signed before — we have to fulfill that,” Torres said.
He said they also discussed this issue with federal officials during the 902 consultations in Washington, D.C. last week.
“When we elected to become part of the American family we agreed to lease the military property on Saipan, Farallon de Medinilla and Tinian for specific purposes. The United States agreed that until it develops a military base on Tinian, the public lands there will be leased back to the CNMI for ranching and agricultural purposes and that there will only be basic military operations and maneuvers and training on Tinian such as Cope North and Forager Fury. The CNMI agreed to allow live-fire and bombing activities on Farallon de Medinilla but not on Tinian.”
The governor is optimistic that the military proposals will be reworked to become compatible with the purposes for which CNMI land was leased to the military as set out in the Covenant.
Torres said he wants the U.S. to reconsider its proposed military activities on Tinian and Pagan.
He said Pagan was not required to be leased to the U.S. under the Covenant, adding that the CNMI has no real interest in leasing or selling portions of the volcanic island for military training purposes.
“We stand firm that we have an existing agreement that we would like to revisit first before we entertain another military proposal,” Torres reiterated.
Aside from Defense and military officials, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services and Federal Emergency Management Agency officials as well as other members of the U.S. 902 panel, including Assistant Interior Secretary Esther Kia’aina, will also visit the CNMI this week.
Kia’aina and FEMA officials will be holding a press conference today, Wednesday, at Fiesta Resort regarding climate-change issues.