Women’s group demands impact study on troop buildup
Wednesday, August 15, 2007
By Mar-Vic Cagurangan
Variety News Staff
MILITARY expansion must come with a thorough study of its impact on the island’s environment, healthcare, education and other social issues likely to be affected by the population surge on Guam, according to women activists.
They are also demanding transparency and an open line of communication with U.S. leaders.
The women’s group, called Fuetsan Famalao’an, met with Guam Delegate Madeleine Bordallo and U.S. Virgin Islands Rep. Donna Christensen at the Outrigger Hotel on Sunday and discussed their concerns about the impending relocation of 8,000 Marines from Okinawa to Guam.
The Sunday brunch meeting, hosted by Bordallo, saw a gathering of 35 women representing various sectors of the community.
“We seek to bring to the center socio-cultural issues which tend to be marginalized in public discussion of the impact of military expansion,” Fuetsan Famalao’an member Nicole Santos said.
Another member, Therese Terlaje, noted that “because this proposed military buildup is unprecedented, unprecedented attention must be given to all its consequences and impacts.”
Members of the group are scheduled to hold another dialog with Bordallo and Christensen at the town hall meeting to be held at the Hilton Resort and Spa tomorrow.
“Congresswoman Madeleine Bordallo seemed surprised by the concerns that women presented during the Sunday meeting. She probably hasn’t heard of them before. She was surprised to find out that many of us are opposing the military expansion,” former Senator Hope Cristobal told Variety.
Lisa Natividad discussed the environmental degradation that resulted from the presence of toxic chemicals left by the military and the various diseases contracted by Guam residents as a result of the contamination from nuclear tests conducted in the Pacific in the 1950s.
“The reckless military practices of the past have taken their toll on the health of our people. Now Guam is again being asked to continue making sacrifices in the name of national defense,” Natividad said.
At tomorrow’s town hall meeting, Cristobal will present a list of recommendations to address a number of issues linked to the military buildup.
“Congress must responsibly address the cumulative effect of all proposed military projects together with past and current military activity and presence. The effectiveness of past mitigation efforts by the military should be assessed in order to determine the prudence of allowing future mitigation where adverse impact is expected,” Cristobal stated in a written statement.
She also demands that the people of Guam be fully informed of the results of any environmental studies done or being done on Guam.
“A cumulative study is particularly important relative to past military use of our landfill and over 80 contaminated dump sites still existing on Guam that have yet to be cleaned up by the military, despite their placement on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency cleanup lists for many years,” Cristobal said.
At Sunday’s meeting, Bordallo pointed out that impact studies, funded by the federal government, will be conducted, and reassured the group that “a final decision has not been made.”
The women activists are also demanding the federal government revisit other recurring issues that have not been resolved, including the return of ancestral lands to their original owners and war reparations.