Sunday, January 28, 2007

Despite Environmental Protests, Air Force to Proceed

Air Force to proceed with strike force plan
By Mar-Vic Cagurangan
Variety News Staff

DESPITE the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's dissatisfaction with the U.S. Air Force's preliminary environmental impact study, or EIS, the Pentagon has decided to proceed with its plan to base permanent tankers on Guam to support the Air Strike mission at Andersen Air Force Base.

The Air Force says it will implement its existing environmental protection measures for Andersen and just reevaluate them in the future as the mission goes along.
In the Record of Decision dated Jan. 12, Air Force Deputy Assistant Fred W. Kuhn said "the decision takes into account the direct, indirect and cumulative impacts from the alternative."

"The Air Force, when balancing the essential considerations of national policy, the selection standards and other matters, chose Andersen AFB and did not carry the other six installations considered forward for detailed analysis in the EIS," Kuhn said.

The Air Force has identified Andersen Air Force Base as the site best suited to host the air strike force compared to Iwo Jima, Japan, Saipan, Diego Garcia, Wake Island and Hawaii, which were initially considered as alternative locations for the mission.

"From Guam, combat aircraft are within easy striking range of the region's likely potential hot spots, yet far enough from an adversary's missile launch sites to limit the likely effects of such strikes," stated the Record of Decision, which contains the final EIS.

Last year, the USEPA urged the Air Force to conduct a more substantial environmental analysis and address other "reasonable and foreseeable" issues before proceeding with its plan to build up an Intelligence Surveillance Reconnaissance and Strike, or Strike Force, at Andersen.

The Air Force published its draft preliminary EIS before the Pentagon's release of the Guam Integrated Military Development Plan in July 2006.

"The Air Force recognizes that future actions are planned for Guam," Kuhn said. "However, the Air Force cannot reasonably speculate on preliminary proposals that are still under development and that are not presently capable of meaningful analysis."

He said details contained in the Guam Integrated Military Development Plan are "currently undefined, speculative and not conducive to an informative environmental analysis."

The Air Force says additional planning to modify the EIS will take two more years to complete. Kuhn said the Air Force is not inclined to wait that long, noting the unavailability of information needed to assess the cumulative impacts on Guam environment.

"The Air Force does not consider the unavailable information regarding potential relocation of Marines to Guam to be relevant to any significant environmental impacts or essential to any reasoned choice among alternatives for ISR/Strike bed down and operations," Kuhn said.

"Furthermore," he added, "even if such information were relevant to significant adverse impacts or essential to a choice among alternatives, the Air Force considers the cost of a two-year delay to obtain that information for this EIS to be exorbitant and inconsistent with the Air Force's responsibilities to the Department of Defense mission."

Kuhn, however, said the Air Force will put in place several conservation measures and mitigations to protect Guam's natural resources and habitat for endangered local species, including the Mariana fruit bats, kingfishers and crows. The Air Force also says it will strictly implement a solid waste management system on base.
These measures, Kuhn said, "could be reexamined and reevaluated in any future environmental impact analysis for potential future federal actions on Guam."

The Pentagon is planning to deploy 12 KC-135 tanker aircraft and four Global Hawk unmanned aerial vehicles and personnel to Andersen Air Force Base on a permanent basis. As many as 40 fighter planes such as the F-22 and the F-15E and six bomber aircraft will be rotated from bases in the 50 states. The mission will be deployed in four phases over a period of 16 years.

Air Force officials expect the Andersen population to increase by 3,000.
The ISR/Strike's mission, according to the Pentagon, is "to achieve pre-engagement battle space awareness, locate and identify critical adversary movement, achieve assured success through air dominance, and deliver decisive effects via persistent and precise application of air and space power."

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Guam Hosting International Terrorism Exercise

Guam hosting international terrorism exercise
by Sabrina Salas Matanane, KUAM News
Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Planning continues in the meantime for TOPOFF 4, scheduled to take place on Guam in October. TOPOFF 4 is U.S. Department of Homeland Security's most comprehensive terrorism response exercise. It's an honor bestowed to only a select few homeland security offices once every two years, and Guam was selected for the location of the exercise this year.

Former Guam homeland security advisor Senator Frank Blas, Jr. says he's still actively involved in the planning process, telling KUAM News, "Preliminarily, there are a number of countries that are going to be involved not only as participants, but observers. I do know that there is interest from Canada and Mexico, from the Southeast Asian countries, the Philippines, Taiwan, Japan, Korea as well as Australia, New Zealand; as well there's interest from European nations. Great Britain was involved last TOPOFF, they want to be involved with this one as well. There's a lot of interest from those nations to participate in these exercise, and it also involves the people on island and those to arrive to assist in this homeland security effort."

Senator Blas (R) who has oversight over homeland security issues, says upwards of 600 people could be on Guam to participate in the exercise. TOPOFF 4 is expected to be the culmination of a two-year cycle of seminars, planning events, and exercises. Guam participants for the exercise will include federal, state, local, private sector agencies and organizations, as well as volunteer groups.

Monday, January 22, 2007

Beholden Justice


Written by Patricio P. Diaz/MindaNews
Friday, 19 January 2007

GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews/18 Jan) -- Just very recently, an American soldier in South Korea raped a Korean woman – a 23-year-old raping a 67-year-old. Hours after South Korean police had arrested the soldier, Maj. Gen. John Morgan, acting commander of the 8th Army, issued an apology.He said: “I deeply regret and personally apologize for this terrible incident that has resulted in grave injury to a Korean civilian. This vicious act is an affront to all soldiers.” According to the AFP report, some 29,000 US troops are stationed in South Korea.

In Okinawa, Japan, the base of the US Marines in the Pacific, Japanese authorities take custody of American soldiers who rape Japanese women and try them in Japanese courts. In reported incidents in the past, Japanese authorities frustrated the Americans in their bid to take custody of their soldiers.

The recent incident in South Korea, as well as those in Okinawa, highlights the Smith rape case – the contrast in the dispensation of justice. Marine Lance Cpl. Daniel Smith is from the Okinawa US military base.

To highlight more the contrast, had Smith raped an American woman – white, black or immigrant -- in his homeland, within months, not a year, he would have been in jail and be there while awaiting his appeal.

Beholden Justice

Smith basks in the comfort of what may be called “beholden justice” in the Philippines engendered by the US arm-twisting diplomacy and double-standard view of the court – one standard for the US and another for the Philippine, notwithstanding that the Philippine court system is modeled after that of the US.

Under US court rules and procedures, judicial proceedings end with the sentencing. The convicted goes to jail while awaiting the results of his or her appeal. That, too, was the ruling of Judge Benjamin Pozon which was sustained by the Court of Appeals.

But Washington did not respect that. Through its embassy, it insisted that “judicial proceedings” as provided in the Visiting Forces Agreement end when the appeal ends. Malacañang supported that line and Smith’s petition at the CA that he be put under the custody of the US Embassy.

To give muscle to the US position, the Pacific Command chief announced the cancellation of the joint US-RP military exercises in February – the Balikatan. Alarmed that other US military and economic assistances might be cut, too, Malacañang agreed to transfer Smith from the Makati jail to the US embassy.

The CA decision, penned by Justice Apolinario Bruselas Jr., in upholding Pozon’s ruling, was hailed as a “roaring lion” but decried as “a roar ending in a whimper” when it dismissed Smith’s petition as moot without ordering his return to Makati jail. Bruselas must have felt beholden to Malacañang.

In the Philippines, it is not uncommon to see components of the pillars of justice, including judges of courts, beholden to the President and those closely associated with Malacañang. Examples are legions. That Bruselas has been seen by many as having lost nerve is understandable.

Respect for the Court

That Malacañang did not respect the court in the Smith case is deplorable. Just as deplorable is Washington’s disrespect for the Philippine court.

Court decisions in the US are questioned. However, Americans bow to these decisions until they are reconsidered after having been reviewed by the courts themselves – from the lowest to the highest.

Americans know that their courts are not beholden to their president. In two landmark cases recently, President George W. Bush was virtually chastised by the US Supreme Court and a US district judge.

In an earlier case, the US Supreme Court voided the military courts Bush had ordered created to try the foreign terrorism detainees at Guantamano Bay Naval Base prison. In giving the order, Bush believed that he did not violate the US Constitution and the Geneva Conventions.

Following the Court’s ruling, Bush asked Congress to pass a law authorizing the creation of the military tribunals. Under the doctrine of check-and-balance, the Supreme Court will scrutinize the law for its conformity with the Constitution and the Geneva Conventions if questioned.

In another case, US District Judge Anne Digs Taylor, an African-American, ruled “that President Bush’s secret eavesdropping program to track terrorists is unconstitutional and ordered it to cease immediately” – rejecting the president’s “claim that he had the inherent power to authorize the program”.

In what amounted as a rebuke, the judge said: “There are no hereditary kings in America and no powers not created by the Constitution” – actually meaning that what’s provided in the Constitution may not be interpreted just by the Executive but must be spelled out by Congress in an enabling law.

The ruling was questioned immediately by the Department of Justice and the conservatives. Whatever the outcome of the appeals, which could go up to the US Supreme Court, will not dilute the high respect of the court by the Americans starting from the president.

Sad Reality

Why can’t the American authorities respect the Philippine court ruling in the Smith rape case? Had that been an American court ruling, Smith would have directly gone to jail. Why the double standard?

Why did the US military apologize to the South Koreans and called the act of its soldier “an affront to all soldiers”? The Marine commander in Okinawa did not find the Filipinos deserving of an apology and the act of Smith as an affront to the Marine Corps.

Why were the Marines in Okinawa arrested for raping Japanese women held by Japanese authorities in Japanese jails? The Japanese, unlike the Filipinos, must not be beholden to the Americans.

Why? Why? Why? Is it because the Americans respect the South Koreans and Japanese as sovereign in “words and deeds” while the Filipinos are sovereign only in “words” but colonials in “deeds”? That the South Koreans and Japanese assert their sovereignty while we don’t?

Look at the VFA. To us, it’s a law – a treaty ratified by our Senate. Do the Americans regard it their law? It was not ratified by the US Senate. The US Constitution provides that the president can make treaties with the concurrence of two-thirds of the Senate and these treaties “shall be the supreme Law of the Land”.

The demeaning Smith case, an icon of “beholden justice”, highlighted by a similar case in South Korea and several others in Japan for their different treatment by US authorities, exposes the sad reality of the Filipino-American relations that Malacañang treasures and wants to protect at all costs.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

U.S. Submarine Collides with Japanese Ship

U.S. Submarine Collides With Japanese Ship
TOKYO (Jan. 9) - A U.S. nuclear-powered submarine collided with a Japanese oil tanker in the Straits of Hormuz, through which 40 percent of the world's oil supplies travel, officials said.

No one was hurt in the accident that happened Monday night in the 34-mile wide straits, which are bordered by Iran and Oman and serve as the entrance to the Persian Gulf.

Damage to the fast-attack USS Newport News submarine and the supertanker was light and there was no resulting spill of oil or leakage of nuclear fuel, officials from the U.S. Navy and the Japanese government said.

Both ships remained able to navigate, Navy officials said.

The bow of the submarine was traveling submerged when it hit the stern of the supertanker Mogamigawa as the vessels were passing through the Straits, causing minor damage to the Japanese vessel, the U.S. Navy and Japan's Foreign Ministry said. The Japanese government said it was informed of the crash by the Navy and the U.S. Embassy in Tokyo.

The tanker, operated by Japanese shipping company Kawasaki Kisen Kaisha Ltd., was able to continue to a nearby port in the United Arab Emirates, the statement said.

Commander Kevin Aandahl of the U.S. Navy's Fifth Fleet in Bahrain confirmed there had been a crash and that there were no injuries aboard either ship. Aandahl said the submarine had surfaced and its crew was evaluating damage.

The Navy said the sub's nuclear propulsion plant was undamaged. The Newport News is based in Norfolk, Va., and is part of a U.S.-led multinational task force patrolling the Persian Gulf and nearby seas. It has a crew of 127.

The Mogamigawa was traveling from the Gulf to Singapore and was carrying a crew of eight Japanese and 16 Filipinos. It is expected to arrive in the port of Khor Fakkan later Tuesday, company spokeswoman said on condition of anonymity, citing protocol.

She said crew members reported a sudden large bang and shaking just before the collision, but no other details were immediately available.

The Japanese government has asked the U.S. side to investigate. Aandahl said a Navy investigation would begin shortly.

In February 2001, a U.S. Navy submarine rammed into a Japanese fishing vessel in waters off Hawaii, killing nine people. The American captain's delay in apologizing for the crash triggered protests by the victims' families.

U.S. naval vessels have been involved in previous collisions with commercial ships in the busy shipping lanes around the Persian Gulf. In September 2005, the U.S. nuclear submarine Philadelphia collided with a Turkish cargo ship in the Gulf, causing no injuries.

In July 2004, the aircraft carrier USS John F. Kennedy collided with a dhow in the Gulf, leaving no survivors on the traditional Arab sailing boat. The Navy relieved the Kennedy's commander, Capt. Stephen B. Squires, after the incident.

Fleets of U.S. and allied navy vessels patrol the Persian Gulf, Arabian Sea and western Indian Ocean, attempting to block smuggling of weapons to Iraq and Somalia, nuclear components to Iran, as well as the movement of drug shipments and terrorists.

U.S. and coalition ships started patrolling the coast of Somalia in recent weeks in a bid to capture any al-Qaida suspects fleeing Ethiopia's December invasion.
Associated Press writers Hans Greimel in Tokyo and Lolita C. Baldor in Washington contributed to this report.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Why Guam? Because The Military Can't Go to the PI

Monday, January 8, 2007
More Marines bound for O'ahu, Guam
By William Cole
Advertiser Military Writer
The Marine presence on O'ahu could grow by about 1,000 as the service
reshuffles its forces in the Pacific and moves forward with plans to relocate 8,300
Marines from Okinawa to Guam by about 2014, Lt. Gen. John Goodman said.

The top Marine commander in the Pacific offered a straightforward explanation
for the move to Guam, which is precipitated by growing tensions and a
shortage of space on Okinawa.

"Why Guam? The answer is because I can't go to the Philippines," Goodman said
at a Chamber of Commerce of Hawai'i military partnership conference last

"If our alliance with the Philippines would allow us to go there, I would
move 8,000 Marines right now to Manila Bay," Goodman said.

In 1991, the Philippine Senate voted to reject a treaty allowing U.S. bases
in the country, but the government continues to welcome U.S. military aid and

Strategically, Malaysia, Indonesia and Taiwan also would be preferable for
the basing, but since such moves are not possible, Guam is as close as Goodman
can get to potential hot spots.

"I can take off from Guam in my helicopters or Okinawa with Marines on board
and I can be in the fight fast â within hours," the three-star general said.

Service commanders also emphasized the importance of Hawai'i as the Pacific
increasingly becomes a center of gravity for economic production, potential
terrorism, and military buildup by countries such as China.

At the same time, the United States is taking forces from Europe and South
Korea and pulling them back to the Mainland.

Lt. Gen. John M. Brown III, who heads U.S. Army, Pacific, at Fort Shafter,
said 85 percent of the Army will be based in the continental United States in
the next few years. Forces that are forward-based, like those in Hawai'i, become
critical to national military strategy, Brown said.

"Those forces have to be early and initial entry forces that can respond to
the combatant commander's requirements immediately while that big portion in
the Army back in the continental U.S. moves forward," Brown said.

The Army's Stryker brigade is a fast-strike unit that is designed to be
deployed within days.

Hawai'i also remains a command and control nerve center.


Goodman said Hawai'i's contingent of about 6,500 Marines could grow by 800 to
1,000 as part of possible command and control changes at Kane'ohe Bay.

Adm. Gary Roughead, who commands U.S. Pacific Fleet from Pearl Harbor, noted
that exercise Valiant Shield off Guam in June brought together three aircraft
carriers, more than 300 aircraft and other forces in the biggest U.S. Navy and
Air Force presence in the western Pacific since the Vietnam War.

The exercise was commanded from the Navy's Makalapa headquarters and Kenney
Headquarters at Hickam Air Force Base.

"But Hawai'i really enables it all from the Navy perspective," Roughead said.
"We do have the tyranny of distance, but with today's technology, we're now
commanding our forces in ways that were unheard of 10 to 15 years ago."

The Navy presence in the region is only going to grow with defense planning
expected to tip the balance of attack submarines from a 50/50 split in the
Pacific and Atlantic to 60 percent in the Pacific, Roughead said.


Some 22,000 Marines from Marine Forces Pacific drawn from California,
Hawai'i, Arizona, Okinawa and Mainland Japan are in Iraq and Afghanistan, and that
number probably will go up by another 3,000 to 4,000 over the course of the year
if anticipated orders are received, Goodman said.

Brown said excluding a troop level change expected to be made by the
president, 25,000 U.S. Army, Pacific, soldiers are expected to serve in Iraq and
Afghanistan this fiscal year, and in fiscal 2008 another 25,000 will be prepared to
deploy if called upon.

Reach William Cole at

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

CNMI Faces Federal "Typhoon"

CNMI faces federal 'typhoon'
Cohen: Loss of labor, immigration control likely
By David V. Crisostomo
Pacific Sunday News

A top Interior Department official, who spoke before the Saipan Chamber of Commerce Friday, warned that a federal "typhoon" is barreling toward the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands and that its impact likely will strip the local government's controls on wages and immigration.

"'Federalization' of the CNMI is almost certain to occur in the near future," said Interior's Deputy Assistant Secretary for Insular Affairs David Cohen, as he gave his remarks before the Saipan Chamber of Commerce installation dinner, which was also attended by members of the Guam Chamber of Commerce, federal officials and military leaders.

Cohen stressed that the CNMI faces its toughest challenges yet and that each member of its community will be affected.

"If any portion of this community is at risk, then everyone is at risk," Cohen said. "You are all in the same boat, and if that boat sinks, then everyone drowns."
Cohen said under a worst-case scenario "the transformation of this society will be abrupt and painful."

"I'm sorry to say that in my opinion, the worst-case scenario is much more likely in this case than the worst-case scenario usually is," he said. "Can there be federalization without strangulation? I'm afraid that we may soon find out."

Garment industry

Cohen said the federal "typhoon" comes at a time when the territory's two main industries -- tourism and the garment industry -- are reeling. The garment industry, he said, is "on its way out anyway."

"One does not have to be a fan of the Saipan garment industry to recognize the danger of its abrupt departure," Cohen said.

"The garment industry has in recent years accounted for about 35 percent of the local government's revenues," he added. "Could the local government absorb the rapid loss of such a large portion of its revenues and still protect the health, safety and welfare of its people? Could the economy survive an immediate exit of the garment industry at a time when the other pillar of the economy, the tourism industry, is also reeling? I'm afraid that we may soon find out."

Cohen said while the absence of the garment industry will be good for the CNMI in the long run, the territory must first survive the short run.

"Left to its own devices, the steady downsizing of the garment industry had been dragging the CNMI's economy down to a hard landing," Cohen said. "Pushing the industry out the door may result in a crash landing. Unfortunately, there is no soft landing in sight--but it is easier to survive a hard landing than a crash landing."


Cohen provided the following details:

Wages: The federalization of the CNMI minimum wage is "on an extremely fast track."
"It is woven into the bill to increase the federal minimum wage to $7.25. Under the Democrats' proposal, the CNMI minimum wage will increase from $3.05 to $7.25 over a four-year period, jumping $1.50 in the first year alone," he said. "This could very likely result in a complete and immediate exodus of what's left of Saipan's garment industry."

Immigration: Congress has expressed an interest in moving immigration control in the CNMI to the federal government. Cohen said the timing and terms of any immigration federalization legislation is not clear.

"What I do know is that the U.S. Senate has given my office a lengthy homework assignment -- 24 complex questions about the labor and immigration in the CNMI, due January 26," he said. "A hearing is likely to follow shortly thereafter. To state the obvious, federalization of immigration could also have a profound impact on the CNMI economy."

Representation in Washington: Cohen urged CNMI leaders to push Congress for a delegate seat to the U.S. House of Representatives, but cautioned that such an effort requires a unified community speaking with one voice.

"For a community this small, Washington simply will not take the time to decipher many voices speaking in cacophony. That's why it's so important to transcend the divisions that exist in this community to find the common ground," he said.


Cohen said uncertainty lies ahead for the CNMI community and its survival will depend on what it does next.

"There's nothing you can do to control a real typhoon," Cohen said. "But there may still be hope that your actions can protect you from the typhoon of my analogy. Regardless of what happens, a concerted effort that brings this community together can only be a good thing. You should at least make the effort. You have nothing to lose, everything to gain and your community to save."

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Indigenous Rights in the Crosshairs

Guam: Indigenous Rights in the Crosshairs
by Gina Hotta

Michael Tuncap pulls up his sleeve to reveal a tattoo on his arm. It’s the word “Chamoru”, the name of the indigenous people of Guam. “The reason the Spanish called us Chamoru is because of our dark skin”, says Tuncap. The name originally comes from the word “Moro” and has to do with Spain’s conflicted relationship with the Moors of Africa. “So initially, from the point of contact, race mattered in Guahan”, says Tuncap using the Chamoru word for Guam. An instructor at the University of California, Berkeley, Tuncap is also part of a younger generation of Chamorus who are voicing their concerns about plans to increase US military presence on Guam. In October 2006, a group of Chamorus went to the United Nations and testified that those plans could bring about the irreversible decline of indigenous culture and further undermine their political rights.

Following the Spanish-American war, the US took control of the island and changed its name from Guahan to Guam. “Guhan means ‘we - have’. It is connected to our principal of interdependence. For me to be good, then all of us in this room need to be good. Changing things like language are ways that the US has tried to get us to forget where we come from,” says Tuncap. Sitting next to him are Victoria Guerrero and Kerri Ann Borja. The two young women were part of the Chamoru coalition that testified at the United Nations to try and bring the world’s attention to their plight.

For the US military, Guam plays a critical role in the deployment of forces should conflict arise in the Pacific. At the same time, environmental concerns, crime, and the high costs associated with housing US bases in Asia have created grassroots movements in South Korea, Okinawa and Japan that seek to move the US military out of those countries. And Guam is seen as a prime alternative for relocation of US troops. In a March 2006 Taipei Times article, US Pacific Commander leader Admiral William Fallon explained that South Korea’s President Roh Moo-hyun has the ability to impose some restrictions on US forces stationed there. Fallon said he saw Guam as primarily a staging area where no such restrictions would apply. And that, Fallon says, is a genuine advantage. “Guam is American territory”.

But as Americans and military personnel on Guam exercised their right to vote in November, many Chamorus could not do so. The Congressional Organic Act of Guam in 1950 made Chamorus US citizens, but citizens without the right to vote thereby weakening their ability to determine local policies that are set by the federal government. Guam’s Congressional representative does not have a vote and can only lobby in Congress. Guam is an unincorporated US territory with limited constitutional rights. This makes it much harder to gain political clout in situations where, for example, the US military exercises its power to take control of land. Guerrero says that during World War II, “75% of the island was used for eminent domain to bomb Japan and now the US occupies 30% of the island. For about 20 years we’ve been fighting to get land back”. Immigration policies, also set by the federal government, have led in part to Chamorus becoming a little over a third of Guam’s population out of a total of around 168,000 people.

Introducing herself in Chamoru and identifying herself by family affiliation in the traditional way, Victoria-Lola Montecalvo Leon Guerrero is a writer who is bi-lingual in both her native tongue
and in English. However, she thinks that less than half of her age-group of twenty to thirty-year olds speaks the language. Among the generation following hers, the ability to speak Chamoru diminishes even more. English became the main language after World War II when the US regained control of Guam from Japan. Guerrero says of her parent’s generation that, “you’d be punished if you spoke Chamoru in school. In order to succeed you had to follow these US standards in which Chamoru had no place.”

Kerri Ann Borja echoes this sentiment. Like Tuncap and Guerrero, she now lives and works in the San Francisco Bay Area. Many Chamorus migrate to the continental US because of limited opportunities on the island. Borja teaches in San Francisco and has thought of working in Guam. However, people there tell her to teach in military schools because of the higher pay as opposed to teaching in schools serving primarily native residents. Borja was born and raised off-island, traveling with her family while her father served in the US military. When researching the endangered Chamoru language, Borja asked her father why she was never taught it. “If you go to American schools”, Borja’s father told her, “you don’t need to know Chamoru”. However, Borja intends to educate herself. “My mom’s parents never taught her Chamoru. She learned it when she was older. Now I’m trying to learn Chamoru, but it’s so hard for me to learn it fully.”

Spanish, US and Japanese occupation of Guam total about five hundred years. But Victoria Guerrero says that Guam’s history goes back thousands of years and that this is what provides the foundation for a people still proud of who they are. “Even though my parents weren’t allowed to speak Chamoru in school, they spoke it in the streets. That is the way they rebelled to preserve that language.”

But Guam’s central role in the Pacific region continues to increase for the US armed forces. And that will put more pressure on the indigenous community. The relocation of Marines from Okinawa will base approximately 8000 Marine Expeditionary Force personnel and about 9000 dependents in Guam by 2014 as stated in the US-Japan Roadmap for Realignment issued by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Japan Foreign Affairs Minister Taro Aso in May 2006. And in June 2006, the US launched operation “Valiant Shield” from Guam. It was the largest joint military showcase of US power in the Pacific in the last decade.

In order to voice their concerns, Victoria Guerrero and Kerri Ann Borja went to the United Nations in New York. On October 4th and 5th 2006, as part of the Chamoru coalition, they testified before the United Nations Special Political and Decolonization Committee. The military build-up and its negative impact on the indigenous people of Guam were central to their presentations. In addition, a petition asking for UN intervention to help ensure rights for Chamorus was presented in the hopes of elevating their concerns before the international community.

On the strength of their testimonies, UN Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs Ibrahim Gambari later met with coalition members. “He really believes that Guam deserves the right to self-determination,” says Guerrero. However, Gambari was honest with them saying that no UN resolution will be passed because the US will veto it. Guerrero says there was a recommendation for, “a UN representative to go to Guam and do a report on the situation to take us out of that status of being an invisible colony.”

On Guam, the issue of the military remains a controversial one. “Guam may gain from Korea downsizing,” was a headline from an August 2006 edition of the Marianas Variety newspaper that serves Micronesia. The article also reported that the number of US troops in South Korea is slated to be cut-back by 2008 with some troops perhaps relocating to Guam. And for some people on the island, this means more jobs, more resources and more security under US protection.

Victoria Guerrero states that it is protection that comes with limitations. Many Chamorus died in World War II when the island was bombed by Japan. “Guam was attacked on the same day as Pearl Harbor. In just two days Guahan was surrendered to Japan,” says Guerrero who was named after a close relative who died as a child during that war, “the United States left our island defenseless.” Tuncap adds that many sons and daughters of Guam fought for the United States and that, “in Guam you’ll find people who really believe in the US and the potential of this nation.” It the promise of this potential that makes Tuncap and other Chamorus challenge US military interests. He says what they ask for is not anti-American, “in fact we are calling for what America stands for which is equality, which is a voice – a right to vote, a right to a job, a right to a good and fair education”.

Monday, January 01, 2007

Gone But Never Forgotten

Gone, but never forgotten - Dudkiewicz & Castro are forever heroes
by Clynt Ridgell, KUAM News
Monday, January 01, 2007

Among the noblest pursuits a person can undertake is defense of one's homeland. And although scores of local young men and women volunteer their time and take up arms to preserve freedom with all of the United States armed forces, anytime these brave citizens pay a price for their commitment the hurt and pain of their loss is felt throughout our tightly-knit island community. This year, Guam laid to rest two of its own, with a pair of servicemen losing their lives in Iraq.

Kasper Dudkiewicz and Jesse Joel Jesus Castro were both lost, but certainly will never be forgotten. In January, Dudckiezicz, 23, was killed in Mosul when his humvee was involved in a collision. The military police officer had just married his sweetheart Katie three months earlier, and had only been deployed to the Middle East that past November.

Then in December we reported the death of our island's seventh causality of war, as we learned of Castro's passing. Just a week away from his twenty-fourth birthday, he and four soldiers from his combat unit was killed by an improvised explosive while on patrol in Kirkuk. He leaves behind a young wife, and a month-old son he had never met, who he looked forward to christen upon his return.

2006 ended with the memory of yet another fallen hero, as Richard Naputi, Jr. had the baseball field in Talofofo on which he starred for so many years as a youngster renamed in his honor exactly one year to the day he was killed in Iraq.