Several articles have been printed in the local newspapers about Article 12. More recently, the public learned of the Senate's rejection of Legislative Initiative 17-10. That legislative initiative would have enabled voters to decide what to do with Article 12.
It is very unfortunate that the senators elected by the people to represent the people saw it fit to deprive the voters of deciding for themselves how they feel about Article 12.
We, the Citizens for Change to Article 12, do not see why the senators do not want the public to make the decision. Are they saying that the voters are not educated? Not capable of deciding?
The senators spoke about protecting the future generations. How is this? Our society consists of many different races. Look around and you will see non-Chamorro/Carolinian last names that indicate marriage to non-NMDs.
Yes, land is limited and the CNMI is a very, very small place. We do not see that Article 12 is the vehicle that can save land for future generations. In just a very short time (less than 25 years), our society has changed. We are a true melting pot of different races. Article 12 limits NMD to 25 percent blood quantum. There are people now that are 25 percent and the possibility of marrying a non-NMD is very high. Their children would be the great- or great-grandchildren of NMDs and will no longer qualify to own land fee simple. So how is Article 12 a protection? Or is it a protection for a select group of people in the CNMI?
There is talk about relaxing the 25 percent blood quantum and allowing for even the slightest blood or lineage to determine who is NMD. How is this to be done? Who is going to monitor this? What test will be required as proof?
A better way, a fair way to everyone and certainly clean, is to do away with Article 12. We realize that we all have different values. There will be people who will sell their land no matter what as is being done under a 55-year lease. Fifty-five years is a long time. It is two generations. Can we predict the future? No, we can't. We can, however, make sensible decisions that will have a positive impact on future generations. Let's give them the best opportunities for success in our ever changing world.
The Citizens for Change to Article 12 continues its petition for a change to Article 12. The petition is a popular initiative movement. It involves the people directly in the process of what we should do with Article 12. The failure of the legislative initiative is not the end of the road. We urge everyone to sign the petition to express your voice.
Efrain F. Camacho
Navy Hill, Saipan