GUAM LEADERS MUST CASH IN ON CLINTON'S PROMISES

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PACIFIC DAILY NEWS Hagatna, Guam

EDITORIAL November 25, 1998

Although President Clinton was only here a few hours, he made some important observations and statements. With residents hanging on every word, the President said that he would never have understood so well "the rhythm, the energy, the smile, the realities of life here," if he had not come.

That means a lot. Now Guam will be much more than a dot on the map when he is approached with our concerns and issues. But he also made promises in his speech that can provide immediate benefits for our island.

Our leaders must explore the full potential of those promises, make plans to cash in on them and follow up to make sure they are delivered.

Excess land. The president said he would "simplify and expedite the process through which excess U.S. military land is transferred to Guam." For years, the military has been ready to return 11,000 acres of excess land, but federal procedures have gotten in the way.

While the president's words are still ringing, our Delegate and the Governor must pursue the return of this excess land and other properties.

Guam Shipyard: Clinton offered something that military leaders on their own could never do. He pledged the federal government's support in transforming the shipyard into "a viable commercial operation." We need more Navy and MSC contracts. So, our leaders must specify the type and number it will take to keep our people employed and the shipyard productive.

Compact Money: The president also promised to ask Congress to increase the money we receive to offset the cost of Micronesians coming into Guam under the compacts of free association. Let's make sure we spend that money well and document it thoroughly. By doing so, we build a case for increased aid to foot this bill.

Territorial Policy: For the first Guam may be given a say in federal policy affecting our island. By promising to establish a network of senior officials and cabinet members to develop territorial policy, Clinton has elevated our access to top-level decision-makers. Control of Guam's 200-mile exclusive economic zone should be our first agenda item.

Military Matters: Clinton directed the Secretary of Defense to appoint an aide to work on Guam's military concerns. This is our best avenue to expand military activities and income for Guam. We have to move on this quickly.

Presidential promises lay the foundation for new domestic and international policies. Guam's leaders must explore the full potential of President Clinton's words and work on ways to make sure these promises become reality.

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