MARIANAS OFFICIALS DEFEND PHILIPPINES TRIP

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SAIPAN, CNMI (Marianas Variety, Feb 20) – Sinajana, Guam Vice Mayor Robert Hoffman yesterday defended the mayors’ trip to the Philippines, saying the benefit Guam will reap from it is more than the money that will be spent.

A delegation consisting of 60 mayors, vice mayors, staff and residents of Guam, Saipan, Rota and Tinian are heading to Manila this weekend for the first general assembly of the newly formed Association of Pacific Island Local Governments, or APILG.

Hoffman said only the travel expenses of mayors and vice mayors are funded by government money through travel authorizations. The trip costs US$5,000.

"It costs more to join national organizations, which requires at least US$3,000 for each district," Hoffman said.

He said linking up with mayors and vice mayors in neighboring countries rather than in jurisdictions on the other side of the world makes much more sense considering the cultural and family ties among the residents.

"We have several people here who have relatives in the Philippines and we need assistance; we can easily establish communication," he said.

The creation of APILG seeks to establish a "sister city" relationship among cities and municipalities of the Philippines, Guam and the CNMI and strengthen ties through cultural, business, educational and trade exchanges, according to the charter’s preamble, which will be signed during the assembly.

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