Guam Senator Calls For Unified Opposition To Military On Pagan

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CNMI told to unite with one voice against military testing on island

By Junhan B. Todiño

SAIPAN, CNMI (Marianas Variety, Dec. 2, 2013) – A Guam senator believes that the U.S. military plan to utilize Pagan Island for training and exercises could be reconsidered.

However, the CNMI people have to be united in their effort said Sen. Frank B. Aguon Jr., chairman of the committee on Guam U.S. military relocation, homeland security, and veterans’ affairs, and judiciary.

"We understand the military wants to use the island but if the community comes out in one voice with the legislative branch and the executive branch saying that other islands can be utilized rather than Pagan, I believe that would be very effective in getting the military to reconsider its decision to use that island," he told Variety.

Aguon, who was recently on Saipan to attend the open-house meetings conducted by the U.S. Navy at the Multi-Purpose Center, was meeting with local residents and officials.

He said he attended the open-house meeting to learn more not only about Guam issues but about the Northern Marianas’ concerns with respect to environmental impact.

"I’m here to listen to the people of the Northern Marianas, to understand what their concerns are on some of the same issues we have in Guam," he said.

He added that there’s a need to put forward a collective voice so that the military will accommodate the local community’s position.

"I think if we send one clear message in terms of this military testing and training, I think chances are that the military will be willing to accommodate local community concerns," Aguon said.

The comment period on the environmental impact statement/overseas environmental impact statement continues until June 12, 2014, he said.

The Guam leadership, he said, will submit its position and "our biggest concern is the effect on mammals and other sea life."

He said they are concerned about how the military will provide mitigation for the environment and sea life.

The CNMI, he said needs to take a unified approach as what they did on Guam.

"The people of Guam were successful in that approach because the message came not only from a special group but from the executive and legislative branches which were consistent in their message to retain access to historical landmarks and property," he said.

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