Tuesday, December 15, 2009

PBS features documentary on buildup

PBS features documentary on buildup

By Dionesis Tamondong • Pacific Daily News • December 15, 2009

The military buildup and its impact to the island is the topic of a 25-minute documentary featured on the Public Broadcasting Service.

"The Marines Are Landing" premiered Friday and featured local community leaders, families and military officials talking about the expansion of military facilities and the influx of tens of thousands of people onto Guam.

The American nonprofit TV service is a prominent provider of public programming, with 356 member TV stations in the United States. The documentary can be viewed on the PBS Web site until Dec. 31.

The program starts with retired Marine Col. John Jackson, director of the Joint Guam Program Office, being interviewed about the need for the buildup, which includes the relocation of 8,000 Marines from Okinawa and their 9,000 dependents to Guam.

He talked about the island's strategic importance and how Guam can, if necessary, become a platform to go to war if diplomacy fails.

The video balances the military's need for the buildup with voices from some who oppose it, or at least the way it's being conducted.

Former senator and local activist Hope Cristobal spoke about how she is working to help prevent the buildup, while Speaker Judith Won Pat expressed her frustration over Guam's government having practically no part in decisions related to the buildup.

"We all know that whatever we do or say, it's not going to matter," Won Pat said on the program. "The decision is made in Washington, and we're not brought to the table. We were told that that is a county-to-country level of discussion. That means Japan and the United States -- not us."

The PBS correspondents attended the Barrigada fiesta to get residents' perspectives on the buildup.

One man said he was angry that he carries a U.S. passport, but can't vote for president. But another resident said he looked forward to how the buildup will infuse the local economy.

Other people featured in the video:

# Businessman Jeff Pleadwell, owner of Jeff's Pirates Cove in Talofofo, gave his take on what the buildup will mean for local businesses;

# Simon Sanchez, Consolidated Commission on Utilities chairman, talked about the need for millions of dollars to shore up the power, water and wastewater facilities for the population influx, and that the federal government needs to pay for that; and

# Dededo Mayor Melissa Savares said she looks forward to buildup-related jobs being available to residents but was worried about how Guam's indigenous culture may be overwhelmed by the buildup.

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