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By Gerardo R. Partido

HAGATNA, Guam (Marianas Variety, Feb. 3) – Guam leaders on Wednesday expressed solidarity with President Bush after his 2006 State of the Union Address, which tackled a number of issues from energy matters to social security.

Gov. Felix P. Camacho said his administration stands with Bush and mirrors his optimism for the future of the country.

"We also stand with the president so that the country can find a swift end to conflicts in Iraq, Afghanistan and the Horn of Africa where our sons and daughters courageously fight. We want them to come home quickly and we pray for their safety and health," Camacho said.

Bush’s announcement to phase out the country’s dependence on foreign oil was also welcomed by the governor as Guam residents continue to struggle with the climbing price of gas and electricity.

"His call to action for the U.S. Congress to fix problems with Social Security also assures future generations that his administration is working to prevent the social security system’s collapse," Camacho said.

For her part, Congresswoman Madeleine Z. Bordallo said Bush spoke for all Americans in honoring the country’s armed forces, their resolve, and dedication to duty.

Bordallo joined members of the House of Representatives and the Senate along with Cabinet members, Supreme Court Justices, and the Diplomatic Corps for the President’s State of the Union address to the nation.

Bordallo invited as her guest Private First Class Michael Paulino of Santa Rita who observed the address from the gallery of the House chamber in the U.S. Capitol.

The son of Mary Paulino of Santa Rita, Paulino is married to Juana Duenas Paulino of Maite and has two children, Zachary, 11, and Zianna, 8. His wife, children, and mother joined him in Washington, D.C. for the occasion.

Paulino is a 1989 graduate of Oceanview High School and Bordallo invited him as her guest to the State of the Union address to honor his exemplary service to our country and because he represents the men and women of Guam who are serving in the armed forces.

Private First Class Paulino, assigned to the 396th Transportation Company, 87th Corps Support Battalion, 3rd Infantry Division out of Fort Stewart, Georgia, returned from a one-year combat tour of duty in Iraq on New Year’s Eve.

"It was an honor to share this moment with Private First Class Michael Paulino. He represents so many of our island’s sons and daughters who place duty, honor and country before themselves," Bordallo said.

President Bush reiterated in his speech his resolve to gain full victory in Iraq and to ensure that Iraqis have a stable and free democratic society before American troops are withdrawn.

Bordallo said she remains very supportive of the U.S. military and its mission in Iraq.

"The President has laid out many goals for America in Iraq and I am hopeful he will go further in the future by giving us specific benchmarks that we must achieve in order to start bringing our troops home. We may not be able to sustain the burden at its current pace unendingly. In the meantime, I pledge to continue my strong support to ensure our fighting men and women have everything they need to protect themselves and to achieve victory," the congresswoman said.

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