“More security, more jobs” penned by Saipan Tribune’s Dennis B. Chan on February 22, 2016, underscores the arrogance and unwillingness of select members of Congress to listen, hear, and understand the concerns of the Chamorro people of the Mariana islands.
The Chamorro people of the Northern Marianas have not given consent to the Pentagon’s desire to lease the island of Pagan for live bombing and live fire exercises.
The Chamorro people of the Marianas Islands have not given full consent to Pentagon desires to grow military activities on Tinian island.
Yet both Rep. Wittman and Rep. Bordallo omit to acknowledge the existence and importance of our Chamorro cultural and total environmental and human health concerns that our people continually express as major concerns.
The behavior patterns of military commanders and select members of Congress is to continually turn a blind eye on discussions that talk about the ugly destruction and harm that major military activity will have on both Pagan and Tinian. This is both arrogant and hubristic because it demonstrates a level of ruthlessness that is not needed.
Let’s remember, Guam was environmentally compromised by the military for decades as the military 1) sprayed Rainbow Agents back in the 1960s and 1970s, 2) poisoned the subsurface water supply that sits directly below Andersen Air Force Base, and 3) never cleaned up former defense sites on Guam that were abandoned.
Let’s also remember that Rep. Bordallo, who is Guam’s sole non-voting representative in Congress, continually under represents those in Guam who are unsure, neutral, or opposed to another military transformation in Guam. I find it unreasonable and unconscionable that Ms. Bordallo would go to Tinian, Saipan, or anywhere else to put a positive spin on what the military wants to do in our island chain.
If the military takes Pagan for its training desires and does the same in Tinian, our islands will be permanently damaged and destroyed environmentally and our rare Chamorro culture and fabric will be permanently harmed and damaged. Toxic substances will be introduced into our islands, more stress will be placed on limited natural resources and our island chain will become a more attractive target for China’s PLA(N).
Enough is enough.
A more robust and honest discussion between all stakeholders needs to be made because the dangers and harms to our total island environment cannot be replaced. The military on the other hand, can pick up and train elsewhere and has no obligation to clean up the messes it will make. Just look at what has not happened on Guam.
The United States Congress along with top Pentagon officials need to adjust their strategy and listen, hear and understand all the concerns expressed by the Chamorro people of the Mariana Islands chain.
One step that can be taken immediately is to place Northern Marianas Islands Congressional Representative Gregorio Kilili Sablan on several House Armed Services Subcommittees to include Readiness, Seapower and Projection Forces, Strategic Forces and Tactical and Land Forces.
To borrow a recent word used by U.S. presidential candidate Bernie Sanders during debates, Chamorros and islanders must “demand” that our voices and total list of concerns are heard and acted upon by key Pentagon officials and members of Congress because the desires of the Pentagon will have disproportionate harms, damages, and injuries to our total Mariana Islands environment and our fragile Chamorro culture and social fabric systems will be permanently harmed and torn.