House panel OKs amended resolution against ‘destructive military training’

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THE House Committee on Federal and Foreign Affairs on Tuesday unanimously approved the proposed changes to House Joint Resolution 21-8, which opposes “destructive military training and testing” in the CNMI.

The changes  were proposed by Our Common Wealth 670 whose officers and members attended the committee meeting in the speaker’s conference room at 1:30 p.m. Tuesday.

Speaking on behalf of chairperson Isa Arriola OCW co-chairperson and former Rep. Cinta Kaipat thanked the committee for “refining” the joint resolution.

Authored by Rep. Sheila Babauta, the resolution is now officially known as H.J.R. 21-8, HS1, and it will be discussed during the public hearings that the committee will conduct on Rota, Tinian and Saipan.

Instead of “requesting” as originally drafted, the new version of the resolution is “supporting” Gov. Ralph DLG Torres “in his continued opposition to any increase in destructive military training and testing in the NMI.”

 

House Committee on Foreign and Federal Affairs Chairman Luis John Castro, center, and committee members, Rep. Tina Sablan, right, Rep. Richard Lizama, second right, and House Joint Resolution 21-8 author, Rep. Sheila Babauta, third left, pose with officers and members of Our Common Wealth 670 after a committee meeting in the speaker’s conference room on Tuesday. Photo by Emmanuel T. Erediano

The amended version mentions sections of the Covenant pertaining to land lease deals between the Commonwealth and the U.S. military, and the mandate to recognize and respect the scarcity and special importance of land in the NMI.

The committee also added the following language: “The degradation of the natural environment, human health and local economy of the Marianas threatens to detrimentally affect Mariana Islanders’ capacity to participate in cultural practices and access sites of cultural importance (including tangible and intangible culture such as the use of our indigenous languages, the protection of artifacts and historical landmarks above and below  ground and in the sea) corroding a sense of shared cultural identity and threatening the survival of our indigenous cultures.”

The amended resolution likewise mentioned the adoption in 2015 of H.J.R 19-3 requesting then-Gov. Eloy S. Inos to oppose any and all proposed military use of Pagan and oppose any increase in military activities in the Northern Islands.

The resolution, however, also states that the NMI “values its relationship with the U.S. and respects the Covenant that established the terms and conditions that govern this political relationship.”

Besides Kaipat and committee chairman, Rep. Luis John Castro, also in attendance at the meeting on Tuesday were the committee vice chair, Rep. Joseph Leepan Guerrero, members, Rep. Tina Sablan, Rep. Richard Lizama, Rep. Ralph Yumul, Rep. Sheila Babauta, OCW members, Lee Taitano, Sophia Perez and Kathy Yuknavage.

 

 

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