House joint resolution opposes increase in military presence

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THE House of Representatives, which will hold a session today, Friday, is expected to discuss House Joint Resolution 21-8, which requests Gov. Ralph DLG Torres to oppose an increase in military presence in the CNMI.

Authored by Rep. Sheila Babauta, H.J.R. 21-8 states that the governor “must ensure that our islands, people, and culture are protected and preserved for future generations by opposing any increase in military presence or training in the Northern Mariana Islands, including all proposed military use of the Northern Islands.”

Commonwealth Ports Authority board member Pete P. Reyes informed the board chairwoman Kimberlyn King-Hinds and the other board members about the resolution during their meeting on Thursday. He asked them to attend the session and express their opinions about the resolution.

“We do not oppose military training, and we do not oppose military presence,” King-Hinds said.

She added that she has already discussed the issue with members of the Tinian leadership, and they came up with a unified position.

What they oppose, she said, are specific types of training that are harmful to the environment, to the people, and their way of life.

“That is what we oppose. We never called for a complete ban of military presence,” she said.

King-Hinds also noted the “poor timing” of the resolution’s introduction.

“There’s a time and a place for everything. This is not the time to be having an important discussion like this given our situation with the economy and the unknown impact in the event that there is a confirmed Covid-19 case here,” she said.

She noted that the CNMI government is currently seeking assistance from its federal partners.

“Now is not the time to get the people divided on the issue of [military presence]. Now is the time to be united to address issues about the economy, and to prepare for the Covid-19 threat,” King-Hinds said.

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