Friday, 24 September 2010 04:00 By Gerry R. Partido from MarianasVariety
You have to hand it to the military, they spun the release of the Record of Decision beautifully.
For weeks, anticipation had been building towards the release of the ROD with protests planned and statements set to be released about how the military wasn’t listening to the concerns of the community.
The fact that it is election season added to the fireworks, with every politician worth his salt bashing the military to score some political points.
Then, when the ROD was finally released, surprise! Action on two of the most contentious issues of the buildup, namely Pagat and the Apra coral reefs, were indefinitely postponed.
The military must have known that the ROD would withhold action on these two issues. After all, various federal and Navy officials had further studied the issues after the release of the final environmental impact statement.
Assistant Secretary of the Navy Jackalyne Pfannenstiel even made a personal visit to the Pagat site when she visited the island last month.
But by keeping the decision to postpone action very close to their chests, the feds and the military had the element of surprise and effectively undercut whatever protests were planned after the release of the ROD.
To be sure, postponement of the action on Pagat and Apra Harbor does not mean that those who oppose the military’s original plans can breathe easier.
As our editorial earlier this week pointed out, the military can still proceed with its original plans, maybe after the election season, when passions would have cooled down a bit.
But just because the ROD has been released doesn’t mean that GovGuam and the rest of the community should stop airing their concerns about the military buildup that is now about to start in earnest.
There is life after the ROD and even Joint Guam Program Office executive director David Bice acknowledged that the FEIS did not address all of Guam’s concerns.
Bice also assured that there will be further discussions and collaborations between the military and the Guam community beyond the ROD.
In the meantime, a number of island leaders are continuing with a planned massive demonstration in Adelup on Oct. 1 to draw attention to their feelings about the ROD.
The organizers are saying this will be a non-partisan and multi-sectoral event, with even representatives from the national media invited.
Obviously, the aim is to approximate the massive demonstrations in Okinawa that had drawn worldwide attention to the plight of the native inhabitants there.
But again, being political season, it would be difficult to distinguish between what is true sentiment and what is just rhetoric.