House panel opposes ‘all’ US military use of Pagan

Saying that a “wholesale militarization” planned for Pagan will permanently foil any meaningful chance for resettlement and result in collateral damage, the House Federal and Foreign Affairs Committee recommends adoption of a joint resolution requesting Gov. Eloy S. Inos to “oppose any and all proposed military use of Pagan and oppose any increased military activities in the Northern Islands.”

The panel said it has concerns that certain proposed U.S. military operations on Pagan and Tinian “will adversely affect the islands’ socio-economic and cultural legacy.”

But the committee, chaired by Rep. Trenton Conner (Ind-Tinian), said the CNMI values its relationship with the United States and respects the Covenant that established the terms and conditions that govern this political relationship.

The committee recommends adoption of House Joint Resolution 18-14, co-authored by House Speaker Joseph Deleon Guerrero (Ind-Saipan) and 14 other members.

In its report, which is expected to be accepted by the full House later this week, the committee said the Pagan military roadmap covers not just the entire island of Pagan but also Pagan’s coastlines and surrounding waters and exclusive airspace including airspace restrictions extending to the islands of Anatahan, Sarigan, and as far up north as Pajaros.

The committee said it is also concerned with the current CNMI Joint Military Training plan, which proposes to place an artillery range on Tinian.

“The committee is heedful of the impact on the local economy and collateral damage that military training brings to the local culture, geology, hydrology, and terrestrial biological resources and management should be considered integral,” it said.

It said the military’s Pagan plan for combined-unit live fire trainings and maneuvers include military war game plan that demands “continuous” use and occupation of the entire island of Pagan for warfare functional areas.

This is not limited to amphibious warfare, anti-submarine warfare, mine warfare, strike warfare, air warfare, surface warfare, electronic warfare, and naval special warfare, among others, the committee said.

“The committee understands that for the sake of not just the Northern Islands but also the long-term welfare of the entire CNMI, all necessary measures to oppose the proposed military exercises on Pagan and also the increased military exercises within the Northern Islands must be taken. Therefore, your committee is in accord with the intentions of this resolution and recommends its adoption in its current form,” the report said.

A public hearing on the now 7-month-old resolution was held in February, with at least 14 members of the public testifying in support of the resolution.

Rep. Ralph Yumul (Ind-Saipan), a member of the committee, said he thinks the resolution will pass the House.

Once also adopted by the Senate, HJR 18-14 could become the CNMI Legislature’s unified voice against the militarization of Pagan.

Haidee V. Eugenio | Reporter
Haidee V. Eugenio has covered politics, immigration, business and a host of other news beats as a longtime journalist in the CNMI, and is a recipient of professional awards and commendations, including the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s environmental achievement award for her environmental reporting. She is a graduate of the University of the Philippines Diliman.

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