Northern Islands Mayor Jerome Aldan was among the first to oppose the U.S. military’s plans of building a live-firing range on Pagan. Now, he said, that he is no longer alone with various cause-oriented groups—both local and international—joining his campaign.
Save Pagan and Alternative Zero Coalition were some of the groups that were formed that are also against plans of bombing one of the islands under the municipality governed by Aldan, one that has a rich and diverse ecosystem.
That started an avalanche of opposition with four environmental and cultural preservation groups filing a lawsuit against the U.S. military in federal court creating the loudest noise. U.S. Department of Navy and Secretary Ray Mabus, and U.S. Department of Defense and Secretary Ashton Carter were named in the lawsuit.
Guardians of Gani, PaganWatch, the Tinian Women’s Association, and the Center for Biological Diversity banded together, and with the help of counsel Kimberlyn K. King-Hinds and Earthjustice filed the lawsuit.
Aldan said he fully supports the lawsuit filed by the four groups with the help of King-Hinds and Earthjustice. “I support the timely filing of lawsuit. Although I’m not part of it but now there are a lot who are helping out. I think they are on the right track with the lawsuit.”
“From the very beginning I was alone out there fighting for this until I generated a lot of attention and then people started coming in to help. If the military is hiding something then somebody needs to expose it but they are not saying anything. One way or the other, somebody needs to speak up. The people have spoken and that’s not [bombing Pagan] the way they want to go.”
He added that people should not be confused with the military build up and the proposed live-firing range. “It is not only a military build up, it is a live-fire, live-bombing facility. You have to correct it.”
“When you think about military build-up, bases will be established and then personnel being relocated here. Yes, the military would come but this is live-fire and I think they are going to build some storage facility on Pagan for their equipment.”
He said that there were no discussion of having a base and that was the reason behind the lawsuit filed by the Tinian Women’s Association, PaganWatch, Guardians of Gani, and Earthjustice. “No means no. Why keep on talking about it? We should leave the issue alone.”
Aldan said there are some people who had labeled him as unpatriotic. “I’m against it, live-fire and bombing. Now, you are being labeled as unpatriotic because you don’t want to give that island for the U.S. military to train. That’s not the case, I’m patriotic it is the proposal that I don’t like.”