Friday, November 28, 2008

Fiji Military Spending


SUVA (RF Online/Pacific Media Watch): Military spokesman Major Neumi Leweni says the recent hype in the media about the over-expenditure of Fiji’s military in 2007 is nothing new.

The military made the headlines recently after it was discovered it spent $45.6 million more than its 2007 budgetary allocation.

This discovery was accompanied by criticism from many who demanded an explanation for the enormous overspending.

Both Major Leweni and then Finance Minister Mahendra Chaudhry told FBCL News the reason for the over-expenditure was because of the need to take on extra manpower following reports of a possible external military intervention.

As to the many criticisms that the military and the finance ministry have copped in the last few days, Leweni had this to say.

“As you can see, the criticism did not only start when the budget came out. You will note that it is from the same people. People who have been against the military and the interim government from day one. So these people will always be out there to pick on issues to try and discredit the interim government and the RFMF. And just lately, after having listened to articles that have come out, a lot of people fail to realise the amount of money that have been brought in by peacekeepers. And unfortunately people have always looked at the negative side of it.”

The military allocation for 2007 was $80.7 million.

Its total expenditure was $126.28 million, exceeding their allocation by $40.6 million.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Moruroa O Tatou Welcomes Nuclear Compensation

November 25, 2008

PAPE'ETE (RNZI Online/Pacific Media Watch): French Polynesia’s nuclear test veterans’ group, Moruroa o Tatou, has welcomed news that the French government plans to introduce a law to set up a compensation fund for those suffering poor health as a result of the French nuclear weapons tests in the Pacific.

Such a law is expected to be tabled early next year and could pave the way for France to recognise a causal link between the tests and the prevalence of conditions such as thyroid cancer.

The head of the veterans’ group, Roland Oldham, says the announcement suggests that France will at last drop its claim that its weapons tests were clean.

Oldham says in contrast, the United States recognises 31 different types of cancer as a possible result of its testing regime.

He says the French government move may also be to pre-empt a cross-party initiative on the issue.

So far, more than two dozen different French court rulings recognised individual complaints that health problems were the result of the weapons tests but to date the French government has dismissed the findings.

Tens of thousands of French servicemen were deployed in the South Pacific during the 30-year test regime which ended in 1996.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Admin insists lawsuit met legal requirements

By Agnes E. Donato

The Fitial administration insists it met legal requirements when it filed a lawsuit on behalf of the Commonwealth against the U.S. government to block the labor provisions of the new CNMI immigration law.

Press secretary Charles P. Reyes, in response to a legal opinion issued by the Senate's staff legal counsel Michael Ernest, said, “There is no legal issue here. We are in compliance with the legal requirements, even according to Mr. Ernest's analysis.”

Ernest maintains that the CNMI Constitution allows an outside law firm to “represent the CNMI in the litigation, but it must be with the explicit authority granted from the [attorney general] and the AG must maintain some minimal control over the litigation.”

Acting attorney general Gregory Baka holds that the CNMI Constitution authorizes the AG's office to refer cases to private law firms and that delegation is not legally required to be in writing. “Hundreds of pleadings are filed annually by the OAG without the AG's personal review or signature. Yet as the deputy attorney general, I did personally review and comment upon various drafts of the complaint in our Section 903 litigation,” Baka has said in a letter previously sent to Rep. Tina Sablan.

Section 903 of the U.S.-CNMI Covenant allows either party to bring to court any dispute arising under the Covenant.

“Regarding the story on the federal lawsuit,” Reyes wrote in an email yesterday, “again, the AG did approve the filing of the lawsuit, and written authorization is not required. Secondly, Howard Willens has served as an Assistant Attorney General, as well as Special Counsel to the Governor, since January 2006, and he has represented the Commonwealth in that capacity in the local courts.”

The U.S.-based law firm, Jenner & Block, and attorney Howard Willens, special legal counsel to Governor Fitial, are representing the CNMI government in the lawsuit.

Team Andersen Ensures Preservation Of Guam Cultural Resources

Written by Staff Sgt. Jamie Lessard, 36th Wing Public Affairs

Anderson Air Force Base, Guam: With all the construction planned here for the upcoming year, people may ask whether we are doing our part to conserve the cultural resources on Guam.

According to Dave Lotz, the environmental impact assessment programmer for the 36th Civil Engineering Squadron, the sites that include Sirena (Tarague) Beach, The Habitat Management Unit, and the field training exercise areas at Northwest Field all must be surveyed for possible cultural resources before any construction can take place.

"Tarague Beach has a whole range of cultural resourses including Japanese fortifications, Chamorro culture and remnants of the Atkins -Kroll Plantation from the 1920's." Mr. Lotz said.

According to the Historic American Engineering Record, Northwest Field is significant under criteria A at a national level for events during World War II that aided in the defeat of Japan and the ending of the war.

The property's significance is tied to its dedicated use for night missions against the Japanese oil industry, for its having the only bombers especially equipped with the AN/APQ-7 "Eagle" radar, for the 315th Bomb Wing's development of the "compressibility" procedure and for its planes flying the last bombing mission against Japan.

In keeping with Air Force Instruction 32-7065, Cultural Resource Management and the National Historic Preservation Act, Andersen is taking the necessary steps to ensure there is no destruction to the cultural resources on base property.
According to Patrick Lujan, Deputy State Historic Preservation officer, the following steps should be followed before any construction ensues: identify the cultural resources, access the adverse effects of building, and resolving the adverse effects.

"Andersen is taking steps in the right direction," Mr. Lujan said. "Since the National Historic Act of 1966, this time is the most crucial for Andersen and its property because of all the build-up. There is so much Chamorro history that needs to be protected."

Governors of Guam, CNMI, Virgin Islands urge more medical assistance

By Clynt Ridgell

Governor Felix Camacho and the governors of the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands and the U.S. Virgin Islands are seeking equity for the United States insular territories regarding Federal Medical Assistance Program temporary increases. The three governors have together signed a letter addressed to several members of the Senate as they deliberate on economic stimulus legislation.

They are urging Congress to support modification of FMAP provisions to reflect the actual health care needs of their residents and respective Medicaid programs. Currently, the territories are only afforded a 50% FMAP matching rate, while other states are given up to an 83% matching rate.

The letter, signed by the territorial governors, requests that the FMAP rate for the insular areas be statutorily set to mirror the District of Columbia at 70%.

Trade institute is racing against time

Monday, 24 November 2008 00:00 By Emmanuel T. Erediano - Variety News Staff

The newly established Northern Marianas Trades Institute has five years to produce a considerable number of skilled local residents to replace their nonresident counterparts who will be gone by Dec. 2014 as a result of the federalized immigration system that will take effect next year.

NMTI opened on July 15 to train local residents for jobs that are usually filled by guest workers who are willing to accept low wages.

Anthony Pellegrino, who owns a number of businesses on Saipan, said in an interview on Friday that even before the federalization law was enacted, he realized that the CNMI will have five and a half years to build an adequate local work force to replace the guest workers.

The Fitial administration believes that the federalization law will reduce to zero by Dec. 31, 2014 the number of nonresident workers who currently make up 80 percent of the CNMI’s total workforce in the private sector.

Most locals work for the public sector which pays much more than the private companies.

Pellegrino said as an investor who wants to continue doing business on Saipan, he had to think of plan that could at least mitigate the effect of federalization five years from now.

Human capital

Pellegrino said he established the trade institute because he believes the strength of any community lies in the trade skills of its populace.

His start-up money was $60,000 to $70,000 but the real investment here, he said, is motivation.

If a community’s natural resources are used up, the people will be poor forever, he said. But if people are educated, trained and skilled, a country can always become great, Pellegrino added, citing Japan, South Korea, Singapore and Taiwan as examples.

“They invested in their people. I call it human capital. The more educated and more skillful the people are the stronger we can become,” Pellegrino said.

In the case of the CNMI, Pellegrino said local residents will be left to continue running the economy under a federalized immigration and labor system.

Educating people in trades, he said, is a sustainable way to keep the CNMI economy growing.

“I strongly feel that if the CNMI trains its human resources it can become one of the finest jurisdictions in the entire Pacific area, but over the years, the local people have been discouraged from learning any trade. They have been elbowed out of the market place because of the abundant supply of inexpensive or low-waged workers,” he said.

Head start

Three weeks ago, 26 local students completed the three-month pre-requisite course at the institute.

They now have to choose any of NMTI’s trade courses —carpentry and painting, plumbing, electronics, sewing, cosmetics, hair styling and culinary arts.

Today, these students, will start to learn “hands-on,” Pellegrino said.

He said there is a great sense of pride and accomplishment among the local students.

Pellegrino is confident that NMTI will be able to produce skilled local residents before the last group guest workers leave the islands.

The only question is, would the number of skilled locals be enough to cover all the jobs that will be left vacant?

Pellegrino said 110 more local residents have enrolled.

The new enrollees, he said, are young men and women, 17 to 35 years old.

Most are jobless and do not have the same skills as guest workers have.

Unfinished job

Pellegrino recalls that when he opened the institute, there was not a trade school in place.

Northern Marianas College used to offer vocational training, but despite the tens of millions of dollars spent on the program, the enrollment and graduation rates for local residents were “appallingly low,” according to a government official.

The then-NMC officials said locals would have no motivation to learn trade skills if CNMI wages remained low.

Public Law 5-4 mandates that the portion of the guest workers’ application and renewal fees will fund NMC’s apprenticeship, vocational and trade training programs.

Public Law 6-4, or the NMC Vocational Education Program Act of 1988, established the college’s apprenticeship vocational management training program in secretarial science, bookkeeping and construction trades.

This program was supposed to be funded by fees collected from businesses that hired nonresident workers.

The programs had to be discontinued due to lack of students.

Some of the equipment like an electronic panel, woodwork tables and tools have not been used for years and are rusting already.

No future competition

The federalization law will fund a CNMI vocational school to train local residents for guest worker job.

Pellegrino said that if the local government establishes such school he will not compete with it.

He is willing to close NMTI once the federally required vocational school is established.

“I will be grateful if somebody will continue this for me,” he said, adding that he established NMTI just to show what the commonwealth can do to help itself.

Report: Thousands of locals have already left NMI

Monday, 24 November 2008 00:00 By Junhan B. Todeno - Variety News Staff

Because of the economic crisis, more than 4,000 local residents have already moved to the states, according to the report conducted on the economic impact of federalization on the CNMI.

“Like American Samoans, people originally from the CNMI have established substantial communities on the mainland, particularly in the western states,” Malcolm D. McPhee & Associates said in its 96-page report.

The federally funded report was commissioned by the governor, who is now using its findings to support the lawsuit he filed against the federalization law.

Rota’s Sen. Paul A. Manglona and Rep. Victor B. Hocog have noted the “heavy exodus” of island residents seeking good paying jobs in the U.S.

Saipan Mayor Juan B. Tudela believes that four families “are leaving every week.”

According to the report, the loss of local residents will further damage the economy because it is reducing the local labor force.

“With no ability to replace those workers, the economy would slump even more,” the report stated.

It noted that the CNMI is losing its young and educated residents, which will reduce its chances for economic advancement in the future.

This reporter interviewed several local residents who were holding yard sales because they had decided to settle down in the states.

“We’re moving out by January next week,” a family in Koblerville said.

Another resident said they will join their relatives who are now in the states.

“In light of the lack of jobs, a decline in the standard of living, a deteriorating public sector, and the right to move freely to the states, which offer much higher paying jobs, it would be surprising if a substantial number of U.S qualified residents did not leave the CNMI,” the report said.

Former Speaker Oscar C. Rasa, the CNMI Descents for Self-Government and Indigenous Rights spokesman and adviser, said the exodus will continue “if we do nothing to counter this problem.”

The report said if there is no significant outmigration, the local economy will eventually settle down to a workable size, supporting about 16,000 jobs.

However, it added, with no ability to expand its workforce, the economy will ultimately stagnate.

“Because of distance and cultural differences, CNMI residents may be less inclined to move away from home than people in the rest of the United States. But it should be pointed that for years there has been a steady stream of American Samoans migrating to the states in search of better jobs and schools. Moreover, as Samoans have built communities in the states, it appears that the process of leaving home has become easier,” the report stated.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Bill seeks legal action against feds on COFA
Friday, 21 November 2008
by Therese Hart
Marinas Variety News Staff

SENATOR Frank Blas Jr. has introduced a bill appropriating $200,000 to the Office of the Attorney General for its representation of the govSen. Frank Blas Jr.
ernment of Guam in a legal action to claim more than $400 million in Compact Impact funds from the U.S. government. “We need to take this conversation to the next level. For many years, there continues to be that acknowledgement by the federal government that they owe us money,” Blas said.

Blas said the federal government owes Guam over $400 million in reimbursement costs for hosting Freely Associated States citizens who are using public services.

“And they think that what they’ve been giving us annually--$14.2 million--that it would suffice for the total cost of what we actually spend, and it’s not,” Blas said.

Bill 385 identifies fiscal year 2009 Guam Highway Fund revenues as the funding source for the legal expenses.

The AGO can hire personnel, procure professional services and incur other costs necessary to successfully pursue the case.

The bill also exempts AGO from the restriction on the hiring of limited term appointments and unclassified employees.

Blas has written to Guam Congresswoman Madeleine Z. Bordallo regarding this issue but he said the congresswoman has done nothing to look into the matter.

“It’s like, we should be thankful we’re getting $14.2 million. I’m sorry, but no. We no longer should stand being treated this way-- that we’re going to continue to provide these services and not get paid properly,” Blas said.

The issue was raised this year during the Association of Pacific Island Legislators, hosted by Guam lawmakers and a resolution was passed and sent to the president and members of Congress. Another Resolution 141 passed by the 29th Guam Legislature dealing with the same issue was also transmitted to Washington.

“We’ve asked and we’ve pleaded for proper reimbursement for the cost of those services that we provide on their behalf. The message is, we’re not going to be taken lightly anymore. We need this money and (the federal government) owes it to us,” Blas said.

“And they are in violation of being able to reimburse us. This is the basis for us to say, this is your law, you say you’re going to reimburse us and now this lawsuit is being initiated so that we can get that reimbursement,” said Blas.

He said Guam us in the middle of a situation in which the community has to “debate among ourselves” as to where to find money to meet certain federal mandates.”

Military Buildup Forum Draws Huge Crowd

Military buildup forum draws huge crowd
Thursday, 20 November 2008
By Beau Hodai
Marianas Variety News Staff

THE forum called “A Critique of the Military Buildup on Guahan” held last night at the University of Guam College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences Lecture Hall drew hundreds of participants who were seeking to know how Guam has been dealing with the preparation for the federal government’s Marines relocation plan.

Students and other members of the community filled the hall to hear statements made by an eight-member panel comprised in equal parts of representatives of community organizations and the Civilian-Military Taskforce under the Office of the Governor.

The CMTF provided presentations on the impact of the buildup on the island’s economy, infrastructure, public safety and environmental.

Several panelists and members of the audience expressed concern and frustration over the lack of input from the local community.

“I unequivocally object to the unilateral and arbitrary U.S. policy to hypermilitarize our home,” said Hope Cristobal, former Senator and founder of the Guam Decolonization Commission.

“The federal government never consulted the people of Guam as to the impact such a move would cause before a deal was made with the foreign Japanese government and that the U.S. military officials will not accommodate Guam’s needs in the already concluded bilateral agreement,” she added.

Chris Duenas, chairman of the CMTF public safety task force, said his committee has been working to improve the safety of Guam residents in years to come as the buildup begins to materialize.

He said there are some pre-construction concerns that the CMTF is working to address, such as port capacity and security and tightened customs security to handle the influx of traffic Guam is set to see in coming years.

In addition to increased port and customs security, Duenas said the Office of the Governor has requested $236 million in additional funding from the federal government for fiscal year 2010.

Of the requested amount, $14 million has already been earmarked for the Guam Police Department for recruitment of 60 new police officers.

He said another goal is to develop “fusion centers” to bring local and federal officials together to facilitate cooperation and coherency in government.

An open forum followed after the panels’ presentations.

“If the military buildup is so great, how come Okinawa wants them out?” Fanai Castro of the Guahan Indigenous Collective asked, rhetorically.

“One of the major drives as to why the people of Okinawa started organizing against the U.S. military was because a helicopter crashed at a university in Okinawa,” said Castro. “So, that question is kind of clever—it answers its self. It is because the U.S. military is so great, it is the reason why the people of Okinawa want the military out.”

John Benavente, Consolidated Commission on Utilities general manager and chairman of the CMTF committee on infrastructure, encouraged the students to take jobs in the environmental field, saying environmental workers on Guam now are overburdened.

Panelist Michael Lujan Bevacqua of Famoksaiyan said every resident of Guam—regardless of their position on the buildup—needs to realize that the buildup will affect them personally. He encouraged residents to take a more proactive roll in the course of their and Guam’s future.

“It (the buildup) is taking place because we are America, and it’s taking place because we’re not. It is not only something that takes place because of our geographic position, but our colonial status as well,” Bevacqua said.

“It is also taking place because we are one of the few American communities where a unilateral announcement by the DOD that it intends to drastically affect life in your community and cause a population increase of 34 percent is met with excitement, celebration and a frightening lack of questioning,” he added.

Whether one supports or opposes the troops buildup, Bevacqua said everyone “should care about the fact that you are a colony and this military buildup is predicated on the fact that you live in a colony and you can be treated as an object for the subject of the united states, as a weapon of the warrior of the United States military.”

“This is the United States military sharpening the tip of its spear,” he said.

Forum Presents Different Views on the Buildup

Buildup discussion presents different views
By William B. Martin Jr.
Pacific Daily News
November 21, 2008

Sitting and standing room was scarce at the University of Guam's Class Lecture Hall as students and residents gathered to discuss the military buildup.

Panelists for the event consisted of members of the Civilian Military Task Force and two community action groups -- Guahan Indigenous Collective and Famoksaiyan -- who presented their views on the upcoming military buildup of troops, personnel and civilian contractors on the island. The event was hosted by UOG's College of Liberal Arts and Sanctuary Inc.

Presentations were limited to seven minutes initially, followed by three minute closing remarks and a question and answer session made up of inquiries from the audience.

John Benavente, general manager of Consolidated Utilities, discussed his views on the buildup in terms of infrastructure, in light of a projected surge in Guam's population.

"Our goal in this buildup is not only to meet this demand, but to improve services, as well," he said.

Benavente said with a 30-year-old Guam Waterworks Authority the days of utilities being unable to provide services must come to an end, advocating hand-in-hand collaboration with the military. He said the island is too small for multiple power, water and solid waste systems.

UOG economics professor Roseanne Jones said Guam looks to experience a "restructuring" from a tourism-based economy to one that relies more on military contributions.

She recommended the island continue to develop tourism revenues, as well as a possible "third leg" to strengthen the economy, avoiding economic dependence on too few sources.

Buildup 'partner'
Mike Bevacqua of the group Famoksaiyan encouraged attendants -- many of them university students -- to challenge island leaders in ensuring that Guam receives a benefit from the military buildup.

"If their assumption is that you're all just happy to get jobs, they will just go along with it and do what is easiest."

He called upon those in the audience to envision a situation in which Guam was a "partner' in the buildup -- if island officials were asked before plans were made -- which he said was certainly not the case.

"What are we trading off for our (economy)?" Fanai Castro of the Guahan Indigenous Collective asked. "Will it teach our children to survive when it's gone?"

Monday, November 17, 2008

Buildup Could Bring Many Filipinos

Buildup could bring many Filipinos
Joe Murphy
Guam PDN
November 17, 2008

Guam is heading for a sea of change. The key behind this, obviously, is the military buildup. That is coming, and if you don't like it I would suggest moving to Palau.

How will all this affect you? Greatly.

I just read a blog from the Asian Journal that puts one part of this typhoon-type change in perspective. It was written by Malou Liwang Aguilar of the AJ Press. It stated: "In the next few years, the number of Filipinos in Guam will possibly increase with the strategic move of U.S. military bases from Okinawa, Japan. At present, approximately one-fourth (or larger) of the island's population are either Filipinos or of Filipino descent.

"This move opens new opportunities for Filipinos in the island, as an estimated $13 billion will be spent for construction of facilities and housing for military personnel in the span of four years.

"This also means that 20,000 to 30,000 Overseas Filipino Workers can find jobs in Guam. Known for their work ethic and English proficiency, Filipino construction workers are preferred by Guam companies, according to the Philippine Association of Service Exporters Inc.

"But Guam is no stranger to Pinoys. In fact, 35 percent of Guam's population is of Filipino descent, according to Guam Gov. Felix Camacho, during his speech at the 'Living the Dream' event sponsored by the Republican National Convention held in St. Paul, Minn. Camacho, who is also part Filipino, emphasized the significant contribution of the API vote and urged his fellow APIs to get involved.

"Also, Filipino businesses thrive in the island. Chinese-Filipino tycoons like Lucio Tan, Henry Sy and George Ty are major investors. Tan owns one of the largest mall in the island, Micronesia Mall, (as well as) the Tropicana Hotel, American Bakery, Toppy Furniture and iConnect, a mobile communications company. His banks, Allied Bank and Philippine National Bank, also have branches, while Philippine Airlines regularly flies between Manila and Guam."

By the year 2014, approximately 8,000 U.S. Marines and 9,000 family members will relocate to Guam. It is said to be the biggest military buildup in the history of the United States. The expansion could include a new Marine base, an Army ballistic missile defense facility and expanded Air Force and Navy bases by 2014, according to an initial Defense Department time line.

However, news of the military buildup has raised fears among some Chamorros that their culture and population will be diluted. In a recent interview, Chamorro leader Debbie Quinata said that she's not sure that the tiny island can cope with the military influx.

With 40,000 people -- about a 25 percent increase -- expected to move to the island in less than a decade, that is certainly a big challenge to all issues that matter to Guam.

That was why during the Republican convention, Camacho reached out to U.S. presidential candidate Sen. John McCain to discuss the issues. "I've met with John McCain, to discuss issues that matter to Guam."

The governor's office is lobbying for financial assistance from the federal government over the next few years, money that is to be spent outside the bases' fence lines. This would mean roads, seaport, utility improvements and other projects.

In a visit to Guam last year, U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney stressed Guam's role in the U.S. bases' relocation.

"The U.S. can move quickly and effectively to protect our friends, to defend our interests, to bring relief in times of emergency, and to keep the sea lanes open for commerce, and close it to terrorists," he said. "This island may be small, but it has tremendous importance to the peace and security of the world."

Yet even with Guam's significant role to the U.S. military, Camacho pointed out to McCain that Washington, D.C., could give Guam better treatment.

"We are also Americans, and we need to change the way Guam is treated," Camacho said.

But no matter how you cut it, you are never going to make everybody happy.

Billions of dollars will be spent in Guam by the military, the American government and the Japanese government. That should make the businessmen joyful.

Millions of dollars, if not billions, will be spent to upgrade our roads and highways, and transportation in general.

We also can rest assured that the U.S. government isn't going to just drop the Marines off here. They will need better air transportation. They will need water and power and a garbage dump.

The people of Guam, if they can see into the future, should know that the Marines, their families and associated workers will pay more in taxes, and thus provide a bigger, better tax base, which should help our schools.

Communication should get better too, with better TV and movies. We will have more restaurants and night spots.

It is going to hurt somewhat that the traffic, already bad, will worsen.

More jobs will be created for local people, and more taxes will be paid into GovGuam, broadening that base.

The people of Guam have always been on the low end of the gross national product, but I think this will change, too. I see clearly that new and better houses will be built. The island people should have more money to spend on vacations and education.

Health care will become an essential issue, and we may get a new, up-to-date hospital built.

If we watch the military buildup, and don't complain too much, maybe we can count on a plebiscite that would grant this island more freedom than it has now, in the form of a commonwealth.

Joe Murphy is a former editor of the Pacific Daily News.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Consultants Report 30% Decrease in Dump Waste

Consultants report 30% decrease in dump waste
By William B. Martin Jr.
Pacific Daily News
November 17, 2008

There's been a 30 percent drop in waste going to the Ordot dump as a result of the July materials ban on cardboard, green waste and construction debris, according to a progress report filed in federal court by the court-appointed federal receiver.

Solid waste managers Gershman, Brickner & Bratton also submitted invoices totalling $222,677.20 to be paid by the government of Guam for services provided in September.

The solid waste management consulting firm was given full authority by the court District Court of Guam to to close Ordot dump and build a new landfill in Dandan, Inarajan, as required by a 2003 consent decree between federal and local officials. Both projects were supposed to be completed last year, but it was expected to take GovGuam several more years to build the new landfill so the dump can be closed.

The materials ban has been one of the measures they implemented and enforced on all commercial and self-haulers going directly to the dump and the Agat and Dededo transfer stations.

Progress report
The latest progress report also states that emergency procurement orders authorized by Gov. Felix Camacho have been used on vehicle purchases, repairs and maintenance. Though invoices do not make clear exact dollar amounts set aside on emergency procurement, a July status report to the court estimates emergency procurement on "urgent" purchases to be around $1.66 million.

Through such measures, the receiver has reduced the Department of Public Works Solid Waste Division's dependence on equipment rentals from $11,000 daily to about $1,400 per day, the report states.

"(These vehicles) together with repairs to the older equipment allowed trash collection crews to complete their routes during one shift for the first time in several years," David Manning, GBB special principle associate, stated in the report.

The consultants also touted the implementation of new containers accepting glass, mixed paper and cardboard for recycling, located at the Agat and Dededo transfer stations and the Ordot dump.

To date, GovGuam has paid $1,145,961.79 to Gershman, Brickner & Bratton, according to the latest invoice submitted on Oct. 31. Labor costs for the month of September total more than $173,000.

The firm's expense report consists mostly of per diem, lodging and transportation costs incurred among employees traveling to Guam in order to maintain the firm's constant presence on island.

Among the billable items purchased include a $134 vacuum cleaner and a $21 barbecue grill, according to receipts submitted to the court.

In an e-mail, Manning said the purchases, which are tracked and audited monthly by the court, were cost saving measures intended to bring down restaurant costs and cleaning services for employees' temporary residences.

"This arrangement has been very cost-effective for Guam," he said.

Manning provided correspondence with the court in which detailed reports for the months of July through August indicate that the firm billed GovGuam $14,852.72, which he said is a little more than half the posted U.S. government rates for traveling contractors.

The funds shall be paid from a $2.8 million interest-bearing savings account that GovGuam is required to open in January, according to the order.

United Nations Asked to Probe Plight of Pacific's Indigenous Peoples

From the Website:
Indigenous People's Issues Today:

Five Important Indigenous People's Issues for the Week of April 22 - May 5, 2008
Indigenous Ainu People to Press Demands at G8 Summit

Japan's hosting of the G8 summit in Hokkaido in July will afford a rare opportunity for the Ainu people who live on the island to press their long-standing demand to be recognized as an indigenous people.Officially, for the Jul 7-9 summit of rich nations, Japan’s leaders have said they would like to see global health high on the agenda as also sustainable forest development, climate change and development.But the Ainu have other plans to roll out in Hokkaido at the Jul 1-4 Indigenous Peoples Summit, ahead of the G8 event. "If the government recognizes the Ainu as indigenous people everything would change," said Saki Mina, an Ainu leader, at a press conference here last week.There are about 200,000 Ainu living throughout Japan though most are concentrated in the northern island of Hokkaido. Ainu were once thought of as the remnants of a Caucasoid group but this is yet to be proved. Read the rest of the story here....

United Nations Asked to Probe Plight of Pacific's Indigenous Peoples

Representatives of various indigenous groups in the Pacific region have asked a United Nations panel to sponsor seminars and visiting missions that would look into the rights and situations of the natives of colonized territories, whose environments are said to have been exploited by "foreign superpowers."Environmental destructions through toxic waste dumping, mining and deforestation were among the top issues tackled by indigenous peoples in the Pacific region at the Seventh Session of the United Nation's Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues in New York.Michael Dodson, member of the permanent forum, said indigenous lands and waters were being targeted by industrialized nations for dumping of toxic or radioactive wastes from industrial or military operations, often without informing residents of dangers. Read the rest of the story here....

Indigenous People's Hunger Strikers in Mexico Released from Prisons

After years of asserting their innocence, a group of indigenous Zapatista advocates are free, for now.The Mexican government released 149 political prisoners in the first two weeks of April, including 37 hunger strikers, almost all of whom were indigenous people from Chiapas who had been alleging they were the victims of torture, false imprisonment for political reasons, and other abuses. Another 20 prisoners are still incarcerated in Chiapas and Tabasco, but activists have not relented in their efforts, as further abuses in and outside the prisons are coming to light.The vast majority of the freed prisoners was indigenous activists, and had been imprisoned at some point between 1994 and 2006. They were involved with social change groups such as the Zapatista Other Campaign, the Independent Agricultural Worker and Campesino Center (CIOAC in Spanish) and the Pueblo Creyente (Believing People), a group of indigenous Catholics active in social justice issues. Most of the freed men were from the Tzotzil, Tzeltal, Tojolabal or Chole communities in the Chiapas region. Among the leaders who first came out were Zacario Hernandez, Enrique Hernandez, Pascual Heredia Hernandez, Jose Luis Lopez Sanchez, Ramon Guardaz Cruz and Antonio Diaz Ruiz. Read the rest of the story here....

Hearings of Proposed Tipaimukh Dam Available: Indigenous Peoples Resource

Tipaimukh Dam Public Hearings from 2004 till 2008.The month of March 2008 events two public hearings for proposed Tipaimukh Multipurpose Hydroelectric Project, one at Tipaimukh dam site, Churachandpur District on 31 March 2008 and another at Keimai village, Tamenglong District, Manipur on 26th March 2008, both organized by the Manipur Pollution Control Board. The public hearing at Keimai village registered extraordinary support from the Assam Rifles and the Border Security Forces camps nearby and slaughtering of pigs for handpicked participants by project proponents in both hearings. The first public hearing on Tipaimukh dam project at Darlawn Community Hall, Darlawn, Mizoram on 2 December 2004 was severely criticized for its lack of transparency of the project proponent, North Eastern Electric Power Corporation (NEEPCO) and failure to provide vital documents, including Detailed Project Report, Environment Impact Assessment etc.The Tipaimukh Multipurpose Hydroelectric Project, to be constructed 500 Metres downstream from the confluence of Barak and Tuivai rivers, in South-western corner of Manipur over Barak river, with firm generation capacity of 401.25MW, has been one of the most controversial mega developmental projects in Manipur. While the project proponents, the Government of India and Manipur and NEEPCO hailed the project as bearing immense potentials and economic benefits, several issues remained unresolved, primarily the insensitive attitude of the Government and the project proponents to the legitimate concerns of the project affected villagers in the upstream and downstream portion of the Barak River. Find the resource here....

Indigenous People's Voices Demand Climate Justice

In the massive half-moon shaped United Nations conference auditorium filled with hundreds of individuals robed in colorful traditional clothing, jewerly and ceremonial items, a young female’s voice echoes from the center of the room.“We indigenous peoples are emphatic in stating that those primarily responsible for climate change are the governments and companies of the industrialized world,” said Edith Bastidas, executive director of the Centro de Cooperación al Indígena in Bolivia, during a day of testimonies April 22. “[They] are encouraging a production and consumption model that is destroying the biodiversity and natural resources of our Mother Earth.” Catch the rest of the story here....

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Nov. 20 - A Critique of the Military Buildup on Guam

The College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences in partnership with the Division of Social Work present

A Critique of the Military Build-Up on Guahan
Panelists from community action groups (Guahan Indigenous Collective and Famoksaiyan), community experts, and the committee Chairs of the Civilian Military Task Force will present the pros and cons, critical views, opinions and knowledge concerning the ongoing military buildup of troops, personnel and civilian contractors on Guahan.

November 20, 2008
CLASS Lecture Hall
University of Guam

19 Beaches on Guam Listed as Unsafe This Weekend

19 beaches listed as unsafe by Guam EPA
By Jason Salas
Published Nov 15, 2008

If you're headed out to one of Guam's beaches this weekend an astounding 19 public beaches, reaching from as far north as Harmon to down south in Umatac, have been cited by the Guam Environmental Protection Agency as being unsafe. They include East Hagatna Bay, the Asan Bay Beach, Padre Palomo Park, Umatac Bay, Southern Christian Academy Beach and the Merizo Pier.

You're advised not to swim or fish in any of these waters, as doing so could cause serious illness.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Ex-speaker Rasa says federalization task force useless

Wednesday, 12 November 2008 00:00 By Junhan B. Todeno - Variety News Staff

INSTEAD of appointing “federalization liaison members,” legislators should support the lawsuit filed by Gov. Benigno R. Fitial against the implementation of U.S. P.L. 11-229, which will extend federal immigration law to the islands in June 200.

The spokesman and adviser of the CNMI Descents for Self-Government and Indigenous Rights, former Speaker Oscar Rasa, said legislators should also request the newly elected congressional delegate to introduce legislation that will address the impact of federalization on the local economy.

Rasa, in an interview yesterday, criticized the creation of the task force by the House of Representatives and the Senate.

The task force will conduct public hearings, make official inquiries on the federalization law, and keep the Legislature informed of any development on the drafting of the regulations.

Rasa said the task force is a “redundancy.”

“This is nothing but political posturing and grandstanding,” he added.

He said the Legislature should have conducted a hearing before the enactment of U.S. P.L. 110-229.

‘Why create a task force when federalization has already been passed?” he asked.

Legislators, he added, should now address the job security of local Immigration personnel who will lose their job once federalization is implemented.

According to the resolution creating the task force, the legislators said they want “to be an informed participant, in collaboration with concerned public and private entities, in the development of [U.S. Public Law] 110-229 regulations as they pertain to the CNMI.”

Gov. Benigno R. Fitial said negotiation is futile since the federal takeover of local immigration is now law.

According to Rasa, the governor’s lawsuit is directed against the “immigration, security and labor provisions of U.S. P.L. 110-229.

Fitial wants to show how much will the CNMI lose as a result of the implementation of the law, Rasa said. He said his group supports the lawsuit as it will uphold local self-government and prevent the indigenous population from being marginalized.

Report: Depression under federalization

Wednesday, 12 November 2008 00:00 By Junhan B. Todeno - Variety News Staff

UNDER a federalized immigration system, the CNMI economy will lose approximately 44 percent of its real gross domestic product, 60 percent of its jobs, and 45 percent of its real personal income by 2015, according to a report commissioned by the governor.

“Unequivocally, this is a depression of great magnitude. It is equivalent to turning back the clock for the CNMI economy to 1985,” stated the report which was funded by a grant from the Office of Insular Affairs of the U.S. Department of the Interior.

Malcolm D. McPhee & Associates and Dick Conway, an economic development and research services based in Sequin, Washington, submitted the report on Oct. 31 to Gov. Benigno R. Fitial and to U.S. Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne.

Fitial has sued the federal government to prevent the implementation of the federalization law in June 2009.

Garment factories

According to the report, the demise of the local garment industry, which cannot compete with China’s cheap labor, resulted in the lost of more than 11,000 jobs in the CNMI.

In 2007, total employment fell by 35.6 percent drop from 2004.

In a short span of three years, the CNMI lost one-third of its economy, one that took more than 20 years to build, the report said.

Federalization, the report added, will compound the CNMI’s economic woes.

“The immigration measure could prove troublesome for the visitor industry, now the CNMI’s only driving force is the economy, because about 70 percent of its workers are non-U.S. citizens,” the report added.

“The outlook for the CNMI economy is bleak.”

According to the report, the last garment factory is expected to close in 2009, and the visitor industry, after one or two good years, will have to grapple with a declining workforce as foreign workers are forced to leave the islands under the federalization law.

“Even if local residents are willing to take the low wage jobs in hotels, restaurants, and retail stores — an assumption with little basis in past experience — the visitor industry will face a labor shortage,” the report said.


The report recommends the repeal of the federal statutes extending the U.S. minimum wage and immigration laws to the CNMI.

The CNMI, it added, should also seek federal assistance to small investors, and consider amending its Covenant with the U.S.

The CNMI, the report said, needs a law that recognizes the realities of its current economic situation and provides the necessary tools for recovery.

Future scenarios

The report said under the best of circumstances, business revenue and employment in the visitor industry will likely decline by 20 percent between 2010 and 2015.

Short of spending tens of millions of dollars to shore up education, healthcare, and other government functions, there is little that can be done to improve the local economy, the report stated.

Federalization, it added, will drive up production cost and cap the supply of labor in the CNMI economy — this will preclude any meaningful economic development in the future.

In contrast, the report stated, the return of reasonable local control over immigration and the minimum wage will allow the visitor industry to expand, making up for some of the jobs lost during the downturn of the apparel industry.

Labor mobility is just as essential to economic development and growth as is the mobility of capital, goods and services, and technology, the report stated.

“It might be said that the quicker way to ruin a small isolated island economy and prevent any real chance of recovery is to cut off its supply of labor,” the report added.

Monday, November 10, 2008

We Need a Fix To The Fix

ben's Pen
Tuesday, 11 November 2008 02:29
by Sen. Ben Pangelinan
Guam Variety News

Washington delegate: We need a fix to the fix

The military buildup has been held out as the salvation to the economic crises and financial challenges facing our community. The Department of Defense, as well as the Joint Guam Program Office, has touted the fact that the buildup will benefit local businesses both big and small. It appears that a recent decision in a federal appeals court may have placed a kink in the flow of contract dollars to Guam businesses.

Since 1986, the Congress in authorizing Department of Defense appropriations for contracts, set a goal of channeling 5 percent of contract money each year to firms owned and operated by minorities. This was directed in the appropriations because some lawmakers were not satisfied with the pace of the Pentagon in including smaller minority owned firms in defense contracts versus the awards to the Lockheed Martins and General Dynamics and others.

The appeals court ruling declared unconstitutional the 5 percent set aside of defense contract dollars for minority owned businesses based on the court's decision that there was not enough evidence the Pentagon discriminates against minority firms in awarding the contracts. The court ruled that Congress was deficient in its justification for the policy, lacking strong evidence and proof of discrimination by the Pentagon, and thus violated the equal protection clause. Using the strict scrutiny standard, the court opined that "Congress did not have a "strong basis in evidence" to find that DOD was a passive participant in the pervasive nationwide racial discrimination.

The program has benefited minority owned businesses to the tune of over $15 billion in contracts awarded to these businesses of the over $269 billion in contract awards that were issued last year. It is still in effect and is set to expire next year.

The case started in 1988 when a business owned by a white woman lost a contract to a Korean-American couple for computer services. The Air Force in this case gave the contract to the Korean-American couple even though their bid was higher at $5.75 million verses the white woman's Rothe Development Corporation's $5.57 price.

The initial ruling of a federal court in Texas sided with the Defense Department. Rothe Development appealed the decision. The lower court used six studies that ostensibly presented evidence of a discrimination pattern against minority owned businesses in public and private contracting.

Although this ruling I am sure will still be tied up in appeals for sometime, we need to develop a unified response to Washington and the Congress to press our case here on Guam. The Delegate must take the lead in crafting a legislative remedy based upon a studied analysis of the awards of defense contracts on Guam over the years. We need to solicit the assistance of the Small Business Administration, the Guam Contractors Association, the Chamber of Commerce and the University of Guam to attack the evidence as it relates to the practice here on Guam. The Governor must immediately request a grant from the Office of Economic Adjustment to fund the study necessary to present to the Congress showing the proof and evidence of the effect this will have on Guam-based businesses whether minority owned or not. The Guam story and its uniqueness must be documented and told to fix the fix and meet the strict scrutiny standard and constitutional test.

We must do so with all haste or again, Guam businesses will be left behind just like we were in the A76 process. If we do not, Guam firms and our people will be economically deep-sixed in this military buildup.

ben pangelinan is a Senator in the 29th Guam Legislature and a former Speaker now serving his seventh term in the Guam Legislature. E-mail comments or suggestions to

Court Has No Jurisdiction Over Layon Property

Layon property owners say district court has no jurisdiction
Tuesday, 11 November 2008 02:41
by Therese Hart
Variety News Staff

ATTORNEYS representing Layon property owners have filed a motion to dismiss the declaratory judgment and lift the temporary stay that U.S. District Court Judge Frances Tydingco-Gatewood issued Oct. 22 during a quarterly status hearing on the closure of the Ordot Dump and construction of the new landfill in Layon, Inarajan. Earlier, receiver Gershman, Brickner & Bratton had told the court of its concern about whether the government had title to the Layon site, which is where the new landfill will be built.

The court converted the receiver's oral statement into a motion for declaratory judgment under the Declaratory Judgment Act and issued an order staying any action by the Superior Court of Guam in the eminent domain proceeding pending the District Court's determination of whether the government of Guam has acquired legal title to the Layon site, according to court documents filed by Atty. Lee T. Camacho for Atty. Anita Arriola.

Arriola's lawfirm --- Arriola, Cowan & Arriola --- represents Layon property owners Oxford Properties & Finance Ltd., Joaquin C. Arriola and Douglas F. Cushnie.

Arriola's filing states that the District Court lacks jurisdiction to interpret local law governing eminent domain and to determine whether GovGuam has complied with all statutory requirements.

Furthermore, the filing states that without an independent basis for subject matter jurisdiction, the declaratory judgment act standing alone does not grant the court jurisdiction to interpret Guam law governing the exercise of eminent domain.

No federal questions
Arriola's filing also states that the eminent domain case raises no federal questions. Without original jurisdiction over the claims raised in the eminent domain case, the court is prohibited from removing the case from Superior Court to District Court.

"Guam law provides that the Superior Court of Guam has original jurisdiction of eminent domain proceedings initiated by the Government of Guam concerning Guam real properties…. the Superior Court of Guam shall have jurisdiction over all actions for condemnation of private property for public use by the government of Guam."

The filing states that district courts shall have original jurisdiction of all civil actions arising under the Constitution, law, or treaties of the United States and that GovGuam filed the eminent domain action in the Superior Court of Guam pursuant to its authority to do so under Guam law.

The taking of the Dandan property is not a federal taking and is therefore not based upon the taking clause of the U.S. Constitution or/and U.S. laws.

Whether or not GovGuam has complied with the stringent statutory requirements under Guam's eminent domain law is a matter of purely local law, according to Arriola's filing, and the District Court should abstain from ruling on issues of local law that are currently pending before the Superior Court of Guam.

Oxford Properties & Finance holds a 50 percent undivided interest in all property originally designated as Lot B, Dandan, Inarajan.

Arriola owns five percent interest in the undivided one-half interest in Lot B owned by Calvo's Insurance Underwriters, Inc. (or 2.5 percent interest of the whole Lot B). After conveyance of the 5 percent interest to Arriola, Cushnie and Mitchell A. Stevens, the interest was further sold so that the current holders of the five percent are: Arriola with two-sixths interest; Cushnie at three-sixths interest; and Young Chull Kim at one-sixth interests. Many of the landowners acquired their interests in 1979, according to court documents.

Atty. Randall Cunliffe of Cunliffe & Cook, filed a memorandum of points and authorities in support of the motion to dismiss. Cunliffe represents Calvo's Insurance Undewriters, Inc.; Valencia Investments Corporation; Henry Sy; Jones & Guerrero Company, Inc.; Alfred C. and Diane Z. Ysrael; and Lee M. and Joan S. Holmes.

Cunliffe's filing in District Court challenges Tydingco-Gatewood's issuance of a declaratory judgment, stating that 28 USC§2201 authorizes the "courts of the United States" upon the filing of an appropriate pleading, to declare the rights and other legal relations of any other interested parties seeking such declaration on cases of actual controversy within its jurisdiction."

According to Cunliffe's filing, "28 USC§1330 et. Seq., does not establish that the District Courts have jurisdiction over a condemnation proceeding between a state or territory and land within a state or territory. Therefore, this matter should be dismissed."

Cunliffe's filing also states that he, nor his clients, were not served by the Superior Court with any documents in the action and that his clients are not parties to the action.

Cunliffe also stated in his filing that he was concerned about the court's appearance of partiality.

Guam Power Bills to Drop

Power bills to drop: Fuel surcharge rollback will take effect Dec. 1
By Bryan C. Sualog
Pacific Daily News
November 11, 2008

Guam Power Authority customers can look forward to lower power bills for at least the next few months.

The Public Utilities Commission unanimously voted to approve the Guam Power Authority's request to lower the Levelized Energy Adjustment Clause, or fuel surcharge, at a special meeting yesterday.

The surcharge, which makes up about two-thirds of power bills, was lowered from 18.775 cents per kilowatt-hour to 17.105 cents per kilowatt-hour.

The lower surcharge represents a 6.95-percent decrease in the total bill for an average customer.

"We're very pleased that they concurred with our recommendation," said Guam Power Authority General Manager Joaquin C. Flores.

The change effectively rolls back Guam's last increase. On Oct. 3, the fuel surcharge was increased from 17.044 cents per kilowatt-hour to 18.775 cents per kilowatt-hour.

The reduction will go into effect Dec. 1.

"Meters read after the first of December will enjoy the new rate," Flores said. "If you're consuming power and you're on or about the beginning of the month, when you get billed for December, then your consumption would be affected by this new rate decrease."

Flores said any break in prices would be helpful to ratepayers.

"It's about $16 to $17 for the average user," Flores said of the reduction.

Barrigada resident John Rosario said even though his power bill wasn't too bad, he was looking forward to a lower bill.

"Nowadays, every little thing to save money would be a big help," he said.

Rosario said he recently found out he needed to go to the Philippines for medical treatment., The money he will save from the fuel surcharge reduction would go toward his trip, he said.

Prior to the surcharge reduction, Rosario said he and his family implemented power-saving measures to save money, such as only turning on the air conditioner before they go to sleep and running the water heater for only one hour, at night.

"It's become a way of life now. It's easier for us," he said.

Rosario said he plans on continuing with the energy conservation practices to save even more money.

While some residents are excited and looking forward to the drop in their power bills, other residents aren't so optimistic.

Jaelene San Nicolas of Mangilao said she wasn't expecting much from the reduction because she expects the fuel surcharge will just go up again.

"I don't think it will help me. That's my point of view," she said.

Emergency filing
Normally, the LEAC is adjusted every six months, but in October, GPA received informal approval from the Consolidated Commission on Utilities to begin a petition to lower power rates because of the rapidly falling price of fuel.

Any changes in oil pricing that are $2 million over or under the cost of fuel recovery allows the power agency to approach the PUC on an emergency basis.

Flores said a filing would have to be submitted Dec. 15 for the next LEAC adjustment in February. He said the next adjustment would "depend on how prices behave and whether they stay below $75 a barrel."

Flores said if crude oil stays below $75 a barrel, ratepayers will be able to enjoy the decrease through February.

"I think we made it very clear that it would be a reduction, subject to oil prices staying where they're at."

GPA Spokesman Art Perez said GPA's Web site will be updated to reflect the reduction in the fuel surcharge. The Web site is:

"They can log on, see what that change is going to be and make that adjustment," he said. "That will be a welcome relief for everybody as we continue to monitor this."

The site's calculator should be updated by the end of the week, Perez said.

Sunday, November 09, 2008

American Samoa Congressman responds to Guam concerns

Updated Wed Nov 5, 2008

A number of American affiliated states in the Pacific are also holding elections. Firstly, to American Samoa where 17 thousand registered voters have cast their votes for candidatres running for governor and Lieutenant governor; the non voting delegate to the US Congress and members of the House of Representatives. Faleomavaega Eni Hunkin is running for his 10th consecutive term as American Samoa's non voting delegate to the US Congress.

GERALDINE COUTTS: Talofa, are you likely to be re-elected as the delegate to Congress?

ENI HUNKIN: Well, I don't want to make too quick a prediction but as you know, we're the last jurisdiction where the votes are counted, so just now our polling stations are closed and they're starting to count the ballots. And they do it manually.

GERALDINE COUTTS: So, you've got no idea then?

ENI HUNKIN: No, not really.

GERALDINE COUTTS: Faleomavaega, I was just wondering if you could stay with us for a moment, because we are going to play another insert and I want you to comment on it. In Guam, the administration of the Republican Governor, Felix Camacho, is concerned about the possible impact of an Obama administration on the military build up the island. 12,000 US marines are being transferred from Okinawa in southern Japan to Guam, and this is providing a boost to Guam's economy. Governor Camacho's spokesman Shawn Gumataotao says they're worried those plans might change under the new administration. Faleomavaega, we'll get your comments after we've heard from Shawn.

SHAWN GUMATAOTAO: One of the things that will be first and foremost on our minds is to ensure that the new president of the United States will again continue the commitment made between the United States and Japan for resources to support the move of US marines from Okinawa to Guam. That is the primary transition issue that will be faced by not only the government of Guam, but it will be faced by the US Department of Interior, who has oversight of the territories and also the United States Department of Defence, which will be in the position to implement that program. Again, that is the single biggest transition issue that we will face here.

GERALDINE COUTTS: And finally, Faleomavaega Eni Hunkin, a Congressman from American Samao is online from Pango Pango. As the Asia-Pacific subcommittee on the House Committee on foreign relations, what do you think about that comment. Are they duly concerned and are they correctly so?

ENI HUNKIN: Well, yeah, I can understand Governor Camacho's concerns because now we have a new administration and it really comes down on the re-valuation on how the new president is going to look at our overall strategic, military interests throughout the Asia-Pacific region. And transferring some 9,000 marines and their families to Guam, you're talking about $14 to $15 billion funding that the leaders and the people of Guam are looking at as a golden opportunity, as it well benefit them economically, obviously. But the question here - there's going are also going to be other members of Congress who are also gonna say, "Hey, why send them to Guam, bring them to my district." You know what I mean, here in the United States. Because of the tremendous amount of money that we've already expended in this terrible war in Iraq and the problems we're faced with now in Afghanistan, ah, we'll just have to, kind of, wait and see what are going to be the new recommendations of the new military leaders and especially whoever's going to be the new Secretary of Defence. That's going to be the primary agency leader that's going to single out exactly what's going to be out there for us, as far as the Asia-Pacific region is concerned.

GERALDINE COUTTS: Senator Barack Obama in his presidential campaigning said that he was going to cut the military budget by 25%. Does that therefore follow that the Pacific will take its share of that cut?

ENI HUNKIN: I have no reason not to believe that. 25% is pretty huge out of, out of over a $500 billion budget that is supposed to have, that we've approved in the current fiscal year. So I'm sure that every agency, every activity, ah, every program that has been earmarked for this is definitely going to be impacted. And I have no doubt that this $8 or $9, $10 billion usage for the transfer of these 9,000 marines may have to be re-evaluated and reassessed.

GERALDINE COUTTS: Now, just before we let you go this evening, sir, can I just ask you when you think the votes will be in, in American Samoa, for both your position and for the governor's jobs and lieutenant-governor?

ENI HUNKIN: Ah, we will know in a couple of hours, Barbara. So, like I said, everybody else is probably - Guam and Northern Marianas are the first ones to have complete their elections and American Samoa is the last to complete its election. So, we will know - it's about 6:45 right now and probably in another two or three hours we will know the outcome of both the elections for the congressional seat and also for the governorship.

GERALDINE COUTTS: Faleomavaega Eni Hunkin we'll let you go so that you can watch the counting as it goes along. Good luck and thank you very much for joining us on Pacific Beat today.

Bush's marine monument proposal is criticized


WASHINGTON-President Bush's vision for protecting two vast areas of the Pacific Ocean from fishing and mineral exploitation, a move that would constitute a major expansion of his environmental legacy, is running into dogged resistance both inside and outside the White House and has placed his wife and his vice president on opposite sides of the issue.

With less than three months before Bush's term ends, his top deputies are scrambling to try to execute a plan that would shield some of the world's most diverse underwater ecosystems. The original plan, which included four potential “marine monuments” and was well received by environmentalists, has already been scaled back.

Vice President Dick Cheney and some officials in the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands have argued that the plan could hurt the region's economy by barring fishing and energy exploration. First lady Laura Bush, along with a number of scientists and environmental advocates, has countered that preserving the region's natural attributes would attract tourism and burnish the president's record for history.

Laura Bush has asked for two briefings on the issue from White House staff members, and her aides have conferred with scientists who support the two designations.

“It's hard, but it should be,” said James L. Connaughton, who chairs the White House Council on Environmental Quality and just returned from an overseas listening tour on the proposal. “These are big, consequential, national decisions that have international ramifications.”

While environmental groups have pilloried Bush over his approaches to climate change, forest management and air pollution, many marine experts give him credit for his ocean policies.

In 2006 he designated the nearly 140,000-square-mile Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument in the northwestern Hawaiian Islands, creating what at the time was the world's largest protected marine area. Scientists have advocated designating more such areas to protect them from the effects of overfishing, pollution and global warming, which are degrading oceans worldwide.

“There's pretty strong evidence that everyone will benefit from the establishment of no-take reserves,” said Jane Lubchenco, a professor of marine biology at Oregon State University, adding that fish populations rebound both within the protected reserves and in nearby fishing grounds. “The administration made a major step forward in designating the Papahanaumokuakea National Monument, but that one alone is not enough to protect the full range of places and habitats and species that need to be protected. It will be part of (Bush's) legacy, but his ocean and environmental legacy could be much, much more.”

Researchers and activists welcomed Bush's August memorandum asking Connaughton and the secretaries of defense, commerce and the interior to assess the two “marine conservation management areas” he might establish before leaving office.

One, in the central Pacific, would encompass an area known as the Line Islands and stretch about 2,000 miles from the Johnston Atoll to the Rose Atoll. The memo described the area as “isolated from population centers, mostly uninhabited” and supporting “endemic, depleted, migratory, endangered and threatened species of fish, giant clams, crabs, marine mammals, sea turtles, seabirds, migratory shorebirds and corals that are rapidly vanishing elsewhere in the world.”

The other area, in the western Pacific, would include the waters around two northern Mariana Islands and the 6.8-mile-deep Mariana Trench, the deepest ocean canyon in the world.

Both regions are treasure troves of biodiversity: Kingman Reef and other islands in the central Pacific area teem with sharks and other top predators; the Mariana Trench and its nearby islands are home to several species of rare beaked whales and the Micronesian megapode-an endangered bird that uses the heat from volcanic vents to incubate its eggs-as well as to mud volcanoes, pools of boiling sulfur and the greatest microbial diversity on Earth.

No one questions the ecological, biological and geological value of these sites, but supporters of protecting them-including Connaughton and advocacy organizations such as the Pew Environment Group-have faced serious opposition in convincing several key White House officials of the value of broad “no-take” reserves. Bush initially explored the idea of establishing other protected areas closer to U.S. shores, including one off the southeastern coast near a group of deep-sea corals and another in the Gulf of Mexico. After commercial and recreational fishing interests and oil companies objected, the administration decided to pursue existing resource-management plans in those areas instead.

Despite the islands' distance from the continental United States, the proposal to designate an area around the Northern Marianas-a U.S. commonwealth between Japan and Guam-has sparked considerable debate. Cheney and National Economic Council Director Keith Hennessey have questioned the impact on the region's economy, a concern some local officials also raised.

In a June 9 letter to Bush, Juan Borja Tudela, mayor of the Marianas' most populous island, Saipan, argued that “the loss of extractive privileges of natural resources in over 115,000 square miles of water ... far outweigh any benefits” that a marine reserve would yield. Another group of local officials wrote to Bush on Sept. 15, saying that the designation “would deny and take away from us the management responsibility of hundreds of years of successful stewardship.”

The influential Western Pacific Regional Fishery Management Council, a fierce opponent of marine reserves that tried to block the Hawaii marine monument, has also worked to keep the Northern Marianas open to fishing. On Oct. 20, the council, which regulates fishing in U.S. waters in the far Pacific, passed a resolution saying it “is concerned about the magnitude of areas being discussed” and insisted that local residents be allowed to review any proposal before it becomes final.

There has been significantly less controversy over designating the Line Islands in the central Pacific; much of the region is federal territory and sparsely populated.

Connaughton-who held meetings last month in American Samoa, Hawaii, Guam and Saipan about the two proposals-said the administration is sensitive to the issues that Marianas officials have raised.

“The vice president is flagging something I had already laid out in our policy briefings,” Connaughton said. Officials in Saipan “want to make sure that local tourism concerns are going to be taken care of, which includes fishing off of Saipan. They're very interested in the potential of geothermal energy.”

But other island residents welcome the idea of a marine reserve, which would draw researchers and tourists to nearby diving spots. The Hotel Association of the Northern Mariana Islands has endorsed it, and the Pew Environment Group has collected 6,500 signatures from residents who back the monument.

Joshua Reichert, the Pew group's managing director, said that if Bush designates the Mariana Trench and the surrounding area, he will have protected more square miles than any previous president.

“Protecting places like this is one of the few things a sitting president can do that will live on in posterity and be remembered long after the other decrees and orders have been forgotten,” Reichert said. “It would signal to the nation and the world that the sea needs to be treated as a threatened resource, and it will open up an era of global ocean conservation.”

Claudia McMurray, the U.S. assistant secretary of state for oceans, environment and science, said the administration will be “working up until the last week” of Bush's term on the initiatives.

“While it would take a significant amount of work, we haven't ruled it out,” she said. “We feel fairly confident, scientifically, there are so many unique species in that area, from that standpoint, we think it's important to wall off as much as we can.”

Relocation to Guam Dominates U.S. Marines' 233rd Birthday

Written by Patti Arroyo, Pacific News Center - Guam, Saipan, CNMI, Asia-Pacific

On this, the 233rd birthday of the U.S. Marine Corps is news of the uncertainty over the fate of some 8-thousand marines planned to be moved out of Okinawa to Guam.

Guam--Admiral Timothy Keating, the senior U.S. Commander in the Pacific told the media last week that the move could take longer and be more expensive than originally thought and soon came media reports out of Tokyo that say the U.S. may ask Japan to foot more than the 60 percent of the cost they originally agreed upon.

Keating says the move will take place despite the constraints of funding.

A report by the Government Accountability Office suggested in May that the project could be pushed back, citing inadequate infrastructure in Guam and the growing fiscal burden on both governments. In September, it said costs could balloon beyond $15 billion.

Still the defense department says "the two governments of the United States and Japan have recommitted at the very highest levels — prime minister and president — to the eventual success of the agreement ”.

U.S. marines' move to Guam might be delayed

Satoshi Ogawa / Yomiuri Shimbun Correspondent

WASHINGTON--The completion of the transfer of 8,000 U.S. marines in Okinawa Prefecture to Guam likely will be delayed from the initially scheduled 2014 to sometime after 2015, The Yomiuri Shimbun has learned.

The transfer, one of the core measures for the relocation of U.S. forces in Japan, also will cost more than initially expected, sources said.

According to the sources, the U.S. defense budget likely will be cut because of the financial crisis, making it difficult for the United States to allocate sufficient funds for fiscal 2010, which starts in October 2009, to complete the transfer as initially scheduled.

The U.S. government has unofficially informed Japan of the circumstances, the sources said.

Relocating the U.S. marines is currently estimated to cost about 10.27 billion dollars.

The move was scheduled to be completed in 2014, along with the relocation of the U.S. Marine Corps' Futenma Air Station in Ginowan, Okinawa Prefecture, to Camp Schwab in Nago. However, the U.S. Congress' Government Accountability Office has said the transfer schedule is too optimistic, and that additional costs may be required for the development of infrastructure in the relocation site in Guam.

A possible delay to the U.S. marines' transfer under such circumstances likely will affect the relocation schedule for Futenma Air Station, which is behind schedule because of delays on the Japanese side.

The sources also said the United States might ask Japan to shoulder additional costs for the transfer. Currently, Japan has agreed to pay about 6.09 billion dollars, or 60 percent, of the total transfer expense.

The U.S. government is drafting its fiscal 2010 budget requests, which will be made to the Congress in February.

Adm. Timothy Keating, commander of the U.S. Pacific Command, said at a press conference in New York on Wednesday that the transfer was facing budgetary constraints. "We won't be done by 2014, or maybe even 2015," Keating said. "It will cost us a little bit more money than we currently have budgeted."

(Nov. 9, 2008)

Guam wants to hear from Obama administration over military relocation

Guam’s Governor is asking the incoming Obama administration for an answer over what will happen to the proposed build up of United States troops on the island.

The Bush administration had agreed with Japan to move 8-thousand troops to Guam, over the next 6 years, a plan that is worth at least 10 billion US dollars.

Shaun Gumataotao, the deputy chief of staff to Covernor Feliz Camacho, says there’s been an indication that under Barack Obama, there could be a 25 percent cut in military spending.

He says Governor Comacho is worried that could negatively impact on the buildup.

“It’s been less than a week, and the administration continues to make efforts to reach out to the transition teams. This is one issue that we are aware of that is a top priority in the United States Department of Interior transition report as well as a number of other agencies. But again, we will continue to reach out to them until we get this shared with them.”

Shaun Gumataotao says any change wouldn’t just affect Guam, but also CNMI, and the Micronesian states from which workers would have been sought.

US Marines' move to Guam may need more money, time

The Associated Press Published: November 9, 2008

The planned relocation of 8,000 U.S. Marines from Japan's southernmost island of Okinawa to Guam may cost more and take longer than initially expected, local media reported Sunday.

The transfer, part of a bilateral agreement to realign the U.S. military presence in Japan, could be delayed until at least 2015 and exceed the initial $10.3 billion estimate, the Yomiuri newspaper said, citing unidentified sources.

With the U.S. Department of Defense likely facing budget cuts in the wake of the U.S. financial crisis, the government may ask Tokyo to foot a bigger portion of the bill, the Yomiuri said. Japan has thus far agreed to contribute about $6 billion for the transfer.

In New York on Wednesday, Adm. Timothy Keating, the senior U.S. commander in the Pacific, suggested that the relocation may not happen by 2014 as planned but reiterated that it would go ahead despite looming budgetary constraints.

"The two governments of the United States and Japan have recommitted at the very highest levels — prime minister and president — to the eventual success of the (agreement)," Keating said, according to the U.S. Department of Defense.

Today in Asia - Pacific

U.S. electricity project forges ahead despite Afghan terrain and TalibanAn artist in exile tests India's democratic idealsA report by the Government Accountability Office suggested in May that the project could be pushed back, citing inadequate infrastructure in Guam and the growing fiscal burden on both governments. In September, it said costs could balloon beyond $15 billion.

However, a senior Defense Department official said Saturday that Washington still aims to complete the relocation by 2014.

"This reflects our shared determination to realize the new alliance posture expeditiously and in a manner that strengthens deterrence while reducing the size of the U.S. footprint in Okinawa," said David Sydney, deputy assistant secretary of defense for East Asia, according to Kyodo News agency.

The Marines who will be moved to Guam, a U.S. protectorate, are part of the 50,000 troops currently stationed in Japan under a bilateral security pact.

A delay would likely affect the timetable for another major part of the agreement inked in 2006 — relocating the U.S. Marine Corps' Futemma Air Station north of Ginowan to Nago in a more rural part of Okinawa.

The deal grew out of long-standing complaints in Okinawa about noise and crime related to the heavy U.S. military presence there. Okinawa is about 1,000 miles (1,600 kilometers) southwest of Tokyo.

Report: US Marines' move to Guam to cost more than $10.3B estimate


TOKYO (AP)-The planned relocation of 8,000 U.S. Marines from Japan's southernmost island of Okinawa to Guam may cost more and take longer than initially expected, local media reported Sunday.

The transfer, part of a bilateral agreement to realign the U.S. military presence in Japan, could be delayed until at least 2015 and exceed the initial $10.3 billion estimate, the Yomiuri newspaper said, citing unidentified sources.

With the U.S. Department of Defense likely facing budget cuts in the wake of the U.S. financial crisis, the government may ask Tokyo to foot a bigger portion of the bill, the Yomiuri said. Japan has thus far agreed to contribute about $6 billion for the transfer.

In New York on Wednesday, Adm. Timothy Keating, the senior U.S. commander in the Pacific, suggested that the relocation may not happen by 2014 as planned but reiterated that it would go ahead despite looming budgetary constraints.

“The two governments of the United States and Japan have recommitted at the very highest levels-prime minister and president-to the eventual success of the (agreement),” Keating said, according to the U.S. Department of Defense.

A report by the Government Accountability Office suggested in May that the project could be pushed back, citing inadequate infrastructure in Guam and the growing fiscal burden on both governments. In September, it said costs could balloon beyond $15 billion.

However, a senior Defense Department official said Saturday that Washington still aims to complete the relocation by 2014.

“This reflects our shared determination to realize the new alliance posture expeditiously and in a manner that strengthens deterrence while reducing the size of the U.S. footprint in Okinawa,” said David Sydney, deputy assistant secretary of defense for East Asia, according to Kyodo News agency.

The Marines who will be moved to Guam, a U.S. protectorate, are part of the 50,000 troops currently stationed in Japan under a bilateral security pact.

A delay would likely affect the timetable for another major part of the agreement inked in 2006-relocating the U.S. Marine Corps' Futemma Air Station north of Ginowan to Nago in a more rural part of Okinawa.

The deal grew out of long-standing complaints in Okinawa about noise and crime related to the heavy U.S. military presence there. Okinawa is about 1,000 miles (1,600 kilometers) southwest of Tokyo.

Revision work on Chamorro dictionary underway

By Nazario Rodriguez Jr.

A committee to revise the 33-year old Chamorro-English Dictionary has started reviewing entries for a new edition that members will be working on for three years.

As part of initial efforts, committee members held a teleconference yesterday with linguist Sandra Chang from the University of California-Sta. Cruz.

The Revision Committee members are Vicente Borja, Rita Guerrero and Gonzalo Santos (Susupe); Carmen S. Taimanao, Noel Quitugua and William Macaranas (Guinifi); Bernie P. Sablan, Paz C. Younis and Manny F. Borja (Langat); Jose Sanchez, Viola Guerrero and Dan Quitugua (Attu'asi); Tita A. Hocog and Magdalena SN Mesngon (Luta); Angie C. Fitial (Tinian); and Dr. Liz Rechebei and Dr. Rita Hocog Inos (Sainan Cho'cho').

Rechebei and Inos are coordinating the committee, which is composed of four working groups.

The three-year project is in collaboration with the National Science Foundation and funded by the Northern Marianas Islands Council for the Humanities.

Rechebei said some of the main activities of the working groups would be to check the accuracy of the definitions and to indicate grammatical errors.

With the use of a software called 2BOX, the working groups would be able to identify some major changes as well as additional entries.

“One working group will give its work to another working group for it to review and after each group reviewed it, it would be handed over to us,” Rechebei said, adding that it would be a long process.

She said they would be consulting experts of the language such as fishermen, farmers, and people who have basic knowledge in other fields such as culture and arts.

“These are the people who really know the language. We will be convening them because they are very knowledgeable in, let's say, about the parts of a house or parts of a canoe. They would be able to define such words or entries,” Rechebei explained.

She said different groups may have different opinions but this is part of the process of putting these different opinions into proper perspective.

“Language is always evolving. We will continue to enrich the Chamorro language,” Rechebei said.

She described committee members as really dedicated and are making a lot of progress.

“It is a very exciting process and we are fortunate that we have these people to put their energies. It is also a great learning experience for all of us,” she said.

Rechebei said they hope that their end product would be used in schools and the public.

Rechebei said that Chang is currently doing a second part of the project, a reference grammar book that would be an oral history of the Chamorro language.

GovGuam Bonds Upgraded to B +

GovGuam bond upgraded to B+
By Sabrina Salas Matanane
Published Oct 29, 2008

Ratings authority Standard & Poor's has upgraded the Government of Guam's General Obligation bonds to "B+" from "B". The upgrade follows a recent trip by Guam Economic Development and Commerce Administrator Tony Blaz, governor's chief of staff George Bamba, and Bureau of Budget Management & Research director Bertha Duenas, who met with the company two weeks ago.

During that meeting the governor's financial team highlighted "the projected growth of Guam's economy including the imminent military buildup and tourism diversification efforts with regards to the China Visa Waiver Program," stated Blaz. According to a report issued by S&P, "The upgrade is based on the general government's improved financial performance, which is the direct result of greater political consensus to enhance revenues and control expenditure growth."

The report went on to state that it was also based on the general government more fully addressing the unfunded long-term liabilities on Guam's balance sheet. "This is excellent news, which speaks to this Administration's serious commitment to stronger finances," Governor Felix Camacho said. "When I came to office in 2003, I promised to improve the government's finances and take us up the road to fiscal recovery. I'm proud we're accomplishing this for the benefit of the generations that come after ours. "

"There is a long road ahead and we're going to keep working to eliminate the deficit, pay our people what they are owed and strengthen the government's financial position further," he added.

Marine transfer on track: U.S., Japan commit at 'highest levels'

By Dionesis Tamondong • Pacific Daily News • November 10, 2008

The governments of Japan and the United States remain committed to the transformation of the U.S.-Japan alliance, which includes moving about 8,000 U.S. Marines and thousands of their dependents from Okinawa to Guam, according to the Defense Department.

"The two governments of the United States and Japan have recommitted at the very highest levels -- prime minister and president -- to the eventual success of the DPRI," said Navy Adm. Timothy J. Keating, the senior U.S. commander in the Pacific, according to Defense Department.

Keating discussed military transformation initiatives, including the Defense Policy Review Initiative focused on the U.S.-Japan alliance, during sessions in New York at the Council on Foreign Relations Nov. 6 and the Foreign Press Center Nov. 5, according to the American Forces Press Service.

Despite budget challenges both countries face, Keating said both countries want the plan to move forward as quickly as possible.

A senior Defense Department official said Saturday that Washington still aims to complete the relocation by 2014.

"This reflects our shared determination to realize the new alliance posture expeditiously and in a manner that strengthens deterrence while reducing the size of the U.S. footprint in Okinawa," said David Sydney, deputy assistant secretary of defense for East Asia, according to Kyodo News agency.

Economic turmoil

The turmoil on Wall Street could strain the U.S. government's budget, but from a national defense perspective, the planned military buildup on Guam will move forward, retired Marine Maj. Gen. David Bice, executive director of the Joint Guam Program Office, told the Pacific Daily News last month.

"The relocation is going to occur," Bice said.

The next major step that needs to be cleared before any construction related to the Marines' relocation is the Environmental Impact Statement, which is expected to be out by early next year.

Part of the environmental clearance process' goal: to prevent or mitigate harm to protected species and to the host community's environment.The Defense Department also wants to ensure that culturally significant sites on Guam, as well as in the Northern Marianas, where a Marine training site is proposed, aren't adversely affected, Bice said.

While getting the federal environmental clearance is a complex task, Bice said the efforts toward the buildup are on track.

10,000 to remain

As earlier projected, the Defense Department still is targeting the Marine relocation-related construction on Guam to start in January 2010, Bice said. The projected completion date is 2014.

The plan includes relocation the Marines to Guam and realigning the Japan Self-Defense Forces to complement the U.S. realignments, according to the Defense Department.

The plan is expected to reduce the U.S. footprint in Japan to about 10,000 Marines, while taking advantage of opportunities provided in Guam. Japan has agreed to pick up about $6 billion of the cost involved.

Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates visited Guam in May to get a firsthand look at growth under way to prepare for the Marines' arrival.

The secretary took a helicopter tour of Andersen Air Force Base, Naval Base Guam and other island facilities to see construction already started in preparation of the arrival of members of 3rd Marine Expeditionary Force and an estimated 9,000 family members, according to the American Forces Press Service.

'Historic mission'

"All in all, it will be one of the largest movements of military assets in decades and continue the historic mission of the United States military presence on Guam: to serve as the nation's first line of defense and to maintain a robust military presence in a critical part of the world," Gates said, according to the press service.

Keating called the recent move of the USS George Washington to Japan a broad-reaching transformational issue in the region. The Navy's only forward-deployed aircraft carrier arrived at Fleet Activities Yokosuka Sept. 25, and headed out to sea Oct. 1 for its first operational training in the region. The George Washington recently visited Guam.

"The support of the Japanese government in moving a nuclear-powered aircraft carrier to Japan was ... significant," Keating said to the press service. "It's been years in the making, and it's a very strong signal of the spirit of cooperation that's so prevalent in our dealings with Japan."

Keating spoke in broad terms about challenges in the Asia-Pacific region that spans half the globe, emphasizing the importance of partnerships in the U.S. the security cooperation plan.

"We want to represent the strength and the capabilities of the United States military, but we don't want to overdo that," he said. "We would much rather have a cooperative and collaborative atmosphere that we enjoy in almost every part of our (area of responsibility) rather than rely on military power."

'Areas of concern'

Meanwhile, Keating told the press service that the U.S. Pacific Command is watching closely the "potential areas of concern" in its region. These include terrorist threats in the Southern Philippines from the Jamaah Islamiyah and Abu Sayyaf organizations; as well as tensions between Indian and Pakistan, North and South Korea and China and Taiwan.

Keating said he continuously emphasizes the importance of multilateral cooperation that promotes regional stability during his meetings with military, political and commercial leaders.

"We do all that we can to reassure all of our partners and allies and friends in the region that we are all about a stable, secure environment with economic prosperity for all," he said.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Taotao Tano proposes statue for a Chamorro magalahi

By Nazario Rodriguez Jr.

Local activist group Taotao Tano CNMI Inc. is calling for the creation of a so-called Chamorro Park Monument.

In a statement issued yesterday, association president Gregorio Cruz Jr. said such a landmark would “showcase and symbolize our indigenous local ancestral cultural traditions, identity, and way of life.”

He said a statue of a Chamorro magalahi, which means chief, should be chosen by people through public hearings where they would identify who among the magalahis will be honored.

Cruz said the statue would proudly represent the indigenous Chamorro people.

“As president of Taotao Tano, I personally feel the serious need to establish such a park monument [because] our Chamorro culture, traditions, and identity must be protected and respected, for it has been long forthcoming,” Cruz said.

He said it is a shame that in “our homeland we have the Carolinian Affairs, a statue in Managaha symbolizing their magalahi, a Japanese monument, Korean monument, the Sugar King Park, the American Memorial Park, and now a proposed national monument in our northernmost islands but no Chamorro Park Monument to symbolize and represent our people.”

Cruz said the unique and interesting part of this proposal are the booths to be made available at the park. He said it would be exclusively operated and managed by local indigenous Chamorros.

Cruz said he envisions that one day he would give less fortunate fellow Chamorros the opportunity to establish their own business and be self-sufficient, supporting each other.

What better way to do it, he said, than to give them the opportunity to manage and operate their own booths but they must operate it as a family-“meaning your wife, children and grandchildren selling and promoting anything of cultural significance.”

“This is the time our local elected leaders should consider supporting the establishment of such a Chamorro Park Monument for they owe it to us,” he said.

Cruz said they are now working on the details of this plan.

The group will seek the public's opinion on this, including where to put up the park.

“The funding will be a challenge but I am positive that every local will support the cause to establish our own park monument.”

He said he is committed and determined to make this a reality, with the help of people.