CNMI: Tinian Senators Pleased With Air Force Decision

Some elements still to be clarified, community and economy will benefit from military presence

By Cherrie Anne E. Villahermosa

SAIPAN, CNMI (Marianas Variety, December 16, 2016) – Tinian's senators are happy with the U.S. Air Force’s decision to choose the island for a divert airfield, but they also want to see a detailed plan from the military.

Senate President Frank Borja, Sens. Frank Cruz and Jude Hofschneider, who chairs the island’s legislative delegation, said it has been their position that the divert airfield should be on Tinian.

“It is supported by the leadership of Tinian,” Hofschneider said in an interview on Wednesday. “It was the position that we submitted to the military to consider having the divert airfield on Tinian. However, there are still some elements that need to be clarified like the actual developments contained in the divert airfield such as the facilities they are going to build. What are they and what are the planned activities? These and other details are what we need to know.”

He added, “I must point out that the main reason we supported the divert on Tinian is the economic benefits that the community and the municipality will get from it. Of course we support the military but we are also looking forward to having our community and economy benefit from their presence.”

Hofschneider said the real work now begins. “We will work closely with the multiple agencies involved including [the Commonwealth Ports Authority] to see some of the details like if we are going to have some commercial flights or direct flights from certain countries, etc.”

Senate President Borja said he is happy because the divert airfield will help improve the economy of Tinian, and he is looking forward to seeing new infrastructure built on the island.

But Borja said they are still opposed to CJMT, referring to the CNMI Joint Military Training proposed action that will establish a series of live-fire range training areas in the commonwealth.

“We don’t support it. That’s why we don’t like that the CJMT is being combined with the divert because we know that it’s two different things,” he added.

Senator Cruz said “as long as the military will not do any hybrid activity on Tinian, the divert plan is okay” with him.

“I’m always in support of the divert because it will improve the airport and the economy of Tinian. I hope it will also bring employment to the people,” he added.

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