Sunday, April 10, 2016

Leave Pagan Alone

Ya-hu i titilu-ña este na tinige' gaseta.

Put fabot, kao siña ma sotta i islan Pagan?

Sen gefpå'go ayu na lugåt.

Esta meggai na lugåt gi hilo' tåno' mandinestrosa ni' fina'militåt.

Kontodu meggai na lugåt giya Guahan yan gi otro isla siha gi kadenå–ta.

Atan i isla mafa'na'an FDM.

Esta i meggaiña na Chamorro manmaleffa nu ayu na lugåt.

I mañasaga guihi på'go i bomba yan i paluma siha.


“Leave Pagan Alone”
by Cherri Anne E. Villahermosa
Marianas Variety
April 8. 2015

NORTHERN Islands Mayor Jerome Aldan’s message to the military is to “pack up and leave Pagan alone.”  Aldan was among the public officials who were in the House chamber yesterday to hear what the representatives of the Marine Corps Forces Pacific had to say during a meeting that lasted for more than three hours.

Aldan in an interview said he has not changed his position and is still opposed to the proposed use of Pagan for any military activities in the Northern Islands.

“Pagan is an island that people of Northern Marians descent should use to the full extent. There are a lot of resources there that we can tap. When you’re talking about bombs and live ammunition, that’s destruction to me. No matter how you call it…I still find it hard to believe because when you’re dropping bombs of course they will have a a significant impact once they hit the ground.”

Instead of considering the military proposal, the CNMI government should help implement the homestead program for the Northern Islands.

He did not say how the financially strapped CNMI government can finance the resettlement of Pagan, which has an active volcano.

“We need the government to help us expedite the homestead program so we can go back to the Northern Islands. It’s not true that the place is uninhabited. There are still families living there and the numbers have tripled. So instead of prolonging the issue, let’s implement the homestead program. We can start it in Pagan. There’s a lot of flat land in Pagan and it’s a lot easier to maneuver there — there’s a road and there’s an existing landing area there already and all we have to do is renovate and upgrade them.”

The mayor said the airport master plan was done by Efrain Camacho & Associates and it cost $500,000.

“All we need is to get the money,” he added.

“We are losing a lot of lands already. There are over 4,000 pending applications for homestead lots so my take is let’s do it. Let’s start improving Pagan. We don’t need the military’s money. In fact I even asked the Marianas Visitors Authority to include Pagan to the list of the CNMI’s tourist attractions. It’s beautiful and there are a lot of attractions there.”

Aldan said he is not against the military.

“Our CNMI leaders are also leaning toward no to bombs, no to live fire exercises at all. Even on Tinian, there are a lot of concerns…. I’m just surprised that nobody has asked yet about the possible contamination.”

He is urging members of the public to get involved in the upcoming meetings.

“It’s important to participate. We want the people to come out and voice their concerns and be active and be involved because these are their islands.

“Again, I am not against the military. It’s their proposal that I’m against with. It’s not the plan that we see for our kids and the future. I just hope the Legislature and the governor will do the right thing and decide what is best for the people.”

For his part, Lt. Gov. Ralph Torres is also requesting community members to participate in the hearings and public meetings regarding the draft of the Environmental Impact Statement.

Torres in a statement yesterday said: “We are in a crucial stage of the long-discussed military activities on Tinian and Pagan. In the hearings and public meetings of the coming weeks, we are provided an opportunity to participate in this important process.

“I strongly encourage the members of the public and community organizations to take the time to contribute your thoughts and comments both in writing and during the scheduled public meetings.”


By Raymond A. Martinez
Marianas Variety
 Jan. 30, 2008

During a two and a half hour briefing conducted by Roy Tsutsui, U.S. Department of Defense representative, in the House chamber yesterday, lawmakers expressed concerns regarding environmental damage caused by the ongoing U.S. military bombing exercises on Farallon de Medinilla.

Tsutsui said 3,277 pieces of ordnance were dropped in certain areas of the island last year.
An average of 99 pieces of ordnance were dropped on target zones over a period of 120 days, he said.

According to Tsutsui, "after all the bombing, the terrain isn’t much damaged. The island isn’t degrading much after our monthly inspection."

He showed lawmakers aerial photos of the island’s topography.

He said the type of ordnance used doesn’t contain hazardous chemicals that could damage the environment.

No napalm, incendiary, gas or nuclear bombs are used on FDM, he added.

Only inert bombs are used in the bombing exercises over the years and although an inert bomb weighs the same as a regular bomb, it has no explosives, Tsutsui said.

He said 40 of the 60 pieces of ordnance used in the drills were inert bombs.

The U.S. military is expected to use more inert bombs in the coming years, he added.
Tsutsui said not all pieces of ordnance explode on FDM, as some fall into the water.

Reps. Diego T. Benavente, R-Saipan, Victor B. Hocog, Ind.-Rota, and Edward T. Salas, R-Saipan, asked if these "skippers," or unexploded bombs, are removed from the island.

Tsutsui said "a team is sent in to remove unexploded ordnance and metal scraps."

He said the Division of Fish and Wildlife is working side by side with a team of biologists hired by the U.S. military to monitor the environment on FDM.

Washington Rep. Pete A. Tenorio asked whether migratory birds are protected during the bombing drills.

Tsutsui said the U.S. Navy, through surveys, monitors marine life and bird species on FDM.
The number of certain birds is actually increasing, he added.

"The U.S. military invests on the monthly monitoring of birds," Tsutsui said.

The military, he added, has provided about $250,000 for the preservation of megapodes on FDM.

Speaker Arnold I. Palacios, R-Saipan, said the U.S. military should also ensure that no invasive species would be transported by chance to FDM, and that target objects and facilities should pose no danger to the environment of the island.

Rep. Stanley T. Torres, R-Saipan, said he is satisfied with the monitoring team given that the Division of Fish and Wildlife is part of it.

Vice Speaker Joseph P. DeLeon Guerrero, R-Saipan, noted that the U.S. military "is thorough and meticulous in monitoring the impact of the bombing [drills]" on FDM.

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