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By Mar-Vic Cagurangan

HAGATNA, Guam (Marianas Variety, Nov. 3) – While the Guam business community and government officials are celebrating the pending arrival of the nuclear submarine USS Buffalo from Hawaii and the influx of 7,000 Marines from Okinawa, Chamorro activists have stepped up their campaign against the continuing military buildup on the island.

Activist Antonio Sablan lambasted the Guam Chamber of Commerce and Guam’s elected leaders for "focusing on the almighty dollars without giving consideration to the social and environmental impact of having a bigger military presence. We should learn a lesson from Philippine experience. Until now they are still struggling with the issue of who will clean up the toxic waste that the U.S. military left behind when they left Subic and Clark," Sablan said.

He also suggested that GovGuam demand lease payment from the U.S. government for the military’s use of Guam land.

"We have valuable real estate resources. Guam is a prime and strategic location that the military is sitting on. And what do we get? Nothing. We should be getting lease money from the U.S. government," Sablan said.

He also warned of the danger threatening Guam with the nuclear presence. The nuclear submarine USS Buffalo will be home-ported on Guam to replace USS San Francisco, which sailed away from Guam last summer after an accident that killed a crewmember and killed 60 others.

Pentagon has confirmed talks about an increased military presence on Guam.

In an interview with Radio Australia, Congresswoman Madeleine Z. Bordallo said the arrival of a 7,000-strong contingent currently at the Japanese base in Okinawa "is great news for Guam as far as the economic side is concerned. There will be many more people, housing will be affected because people are allowed to live off base — they’re given a housing allowance and we feel that’s good and it’s just a big boost in our economy," she said in the radio interview.

Debbie Quinata of Nasion Chamoru said the presence of more military personnel would result in a housing shortage among local residents.

"How exactly does she think the people will be able to compete with the U.S. military personnel for the limited housing available, them with their inflated housing allowance — us with our minimum wage?" Quinata asked.

November 3, 2005

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