SAIPAN CHAMBER OF COMMERCE SUPPORTS FARALLON DE MENDINILLA MILITARY EXERCISES

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By Jayvee Vallejera

SAIPAN, Northern Mariana Islands (November 29, 2001 – Saipan Tribune)---Worried over the increasingly militant voices in the Senate regarding military activities on Farallon de Mendinilla, the Saipan Chamber of Commerce yesterday sent an emissary to the upper chamber to secure its assurances for the continuation of bombing training exercises on the island.

Mike Shaddeck, Chairman of the Chamber’s Military Affairs Committee, briefly called on Senate President Paul A. Manglona yesterday morning and managed to secure a promise for the approval of a resolution that would signify the Senate’s support for military activities on Farallon de Mendinilla.

"I believe he [Shaddeck] was concerned over the opinions and feelings of the Senate as a body with regard to the Farallon de Mendinilla bombings.

"As you know, to the Chamber and the business community, this is a great economic benefit to them. So they were concerned over the comments coming out from some of the members of the Senate," Manglona said.

According to Manglona, those comments were somewhat negative about the bombings, particularly over the possible effects of the exercises on the environmental makeup of the island.

"And so, he asked me for the possible passage of a resolution supporting the activities out there which, in the end, translates to economic benefits for the CNMI," he said.

Manglona said he will support such a resolution since he sees the economic benefits of doing so "and I’m going to encourage other members to support such a resolution."

The Senate President pointed out that the continuous presence of Navy ships in the CNMI helps the local economy since the sailors patronize local stores and local products.

"I believe that now, more than ever, we have to start looking at different ways to bring in revenue to our coffers and to support businesses here in the CNMI," he said.

He conceded, though, that there are legitimate concerns over conservation efforts for the protection of the CNMI’s fish and wildlife.

"We have to balance those concerns but to do that, we cannot just sit back. We have to take a proactive stance here -- encourage (bombing training) while, at the same time, taking measures to mitigate its negative effects on the fish and wildlife," Manglona said.

For additional reports from The Saipan Tribune, go to PACIFIC ISLANDS REPORT News/Information Links: Newspapers/The Saipan Tribune.

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