Northern Islands Mayor Jerome Aldan fully supports the intent of a Senate bill that prohibits Department of Public Lands from leasing any lands of the Commonwealth for any military live-fire or bombing activity.
Aldan said that Senate Bill 19-42 is commendable as “it recognizes the scarce amount of land mass in the CNMI and understands the importance of the government to preserve the remaining lands in the CNMI for future generation of Northern Marianas Descent.
This bill is created to protect and preserve for future generations to come so as to prohibit the DPL from further leasing any public lands for any military live-fire or bombing activity and requiring any proposed public land lease for any other military activity to be ratified by the people at a general or special election.
He said that he supports the bill and its passage, provided, that it includes a provision in the NMI Constitution recognizing the collective owners of CNMI public lands who are persons of NMD consistent with Article VIII, Section 805 of the U.S-CNMI Covenant (contractual) Agreement, and consistent with Article VIII, Section 806.
“It takes into account the U.S. military’s continued use of the island of Farallon de Mendilla with its live bombs, live fire, and military training. It is obvious that the crafter of the bill is aware that CNMI has lost any and all political, cultural, and economic value and use of Farallon,” Aldan said.
Aldan said what concerns him is the potential destruction of Pagan, which Northern Island residents call home.
“The proposed functional warfare would include but not limited to amphibious warfare, air warfare, surface warfare, strike warfare, mine warfare, anti-submarine warfare, special naval warfare, and electronic warfare. These activities were specifically spelled out in the Notice of Intent, Federal Register, Volume 78, No. 50, date March 14, 2013,” he said. “The intent and purpose of the proposal has not changed to date,” he added.
Aldan said that allowing the expansion of the training and exercise would only bring “large contingencies of arsenals by foreign and U.S. Armed Forces, to expand the area in, which they conduct these dangerous exercises and destructive manmade contamination.
“Let’s face it, Saipan continues to be a hot spot for unexploded ordinances and has not been rid or cleared of such UXO. Are we willing to give up another island or two for the sake of the military’s training deficiencies and national security or patriotism because we are deemed to owe it to our country?” he said.
Aldan has had enough already conceding that it is a local matter and has not been negotiated and it is non-negotiable.