TO RESOLVE OUTSTANDING ISSUES WITH MILITARY

Tinian mayor urges creation of military-civilian council

Tinian Mayor Joey P. San Nicolas has written to Gov. Eloy S. Inos urging the establishment of a military-civilian advisory council to engage issues from military development that affect community access, fishing rights, utility interconnections and water rights.

San Nicolas, in his Oct. 20, 2015 letter to Inos, is referring to Part III of the technical agreement signed and simultaneously executed with the Covenant nearly 40 years ago.

“It is of critical importance to the future of Tinian that proper planning is achieved. Only a civilian military council as envisioned and authorized by Covenant… can accomplish this in the short time frame we have before DOD imposes its will upon Tinian,” San Nicolas said.

San Nicolas, in his letter, said that in light of the Department of Navy’s decision to conduct supplemental studies to resolve outstanding issues relatives to the “Commonwealth Joint Military Training” plan and in recognition of the fact that the CNMI was founded on the philosophy of mutual consent, the CNMI has the “opportune moment to invoke the provision” in the agreement to establish the council.

“Unlike the broader Article 902 [of the Covenant] talks that you have suggested your office and [the] U.S. government undertake, this council was mandated to focus on military community issues and relations in regards to fishing rights, base access, utility interconnections, water rights and mutual rapport for first responders, all local community issues,” San Nicolas said.

San Nicolas notes that a properly formulated Civilian-Military Advisory Council can help resolve outstanding issues with the Department of Defense, “including but not limited to: existing congestion at the Tinian seaport; existing public rights of way usage; repair of maintenance of roads and historic areas; resolving civilian and military solid waste disposal issues; resolving future waste issues to protect the aquifer; assuring sustainable water production by planning future ground water extraction plans and protection of the aquifer by all users; resolution of high explosive weapon training on Tinian, joint use and repair of transportation systems; be it the harbor, the roads, or the airport; and protection of our coral reefs and other natural resources.”

Inos earlier said that the Navy’s live-fire project threatens the CNMI-U.S. partnership, with its proposed take of the entire of island of Pagan for large-scale, live-fire training (including artillery, aerial, and ship-to-shore bombardment) and to radically and unilaterally alter the previously agreed activities carried out on the military use portion of the island of Tinian.

“The Department of Defense’s present day intentions will, in effect, amend the Covenant and other technical documents,” Inos has said.

The technical agreements, though, were predicated on promises of a military base on Tinian, one with shared access to amenities, health, and entertainment facilities, among others, between Tinian and the U.S. military.

Administration officials have discussed these promises as part of the strategy for requested official consultation talks between the Inos and the White House, Saipan Tribune gathered yesterday. The Tinian lease—which leased two-thirds of Tinian land for Defense purposes, and relevant technical agreements and promises—are expected to be part of 902 talks requested in light of the military’s live-fire plans.

“The administration has received the letter and we have always planned to incorporate this issue into 902 consultation,” the administration said when sought for comment yesterday.”

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Dennis B. Chan | Reporter
Dennis Chan covers education, environment, utilities, and air and seaport issues in the CNMI. He graduated with a degree in English Literature from the University of Guam. Contact him at dennis_chan@saipantribune.com.

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