‘Agricultural homestead suitable for Pagan’


Legislators believe the island of Pagan is suitable for an agricultural homestead program, which is one of the things that the late Northern Islands mayor Jerome K. Aldan had been pushing for, aside from opposing planned bombing activities by the U.S. military.

Sen. Justo S. Quitugua (Ind-Saipan) said that—creating a homestead program on Pagan—is one of the goals of Public Law 16-50, which he co-authored in the House of Representatives with former Speaker Oscar M. Babauta and then-representative Joseph N. Camacho.

PL 16-50 is the former House Bill 16-146 that would establish a village and an agricultural homestead program in the Northern Islands.

Quitugua said PL 16-50 gives Northern Island natives currently living on Saipan a reason to return to their home islands in Pagan.

“[PL 16-50] allows and opens up the homesteading program. We have residents of the Northern Islands here living on Saipan where they could return and establish villages and agricultural homestead in the islands where they were born.”

He added that the Northern Islanders could not avail of the homesteading programs on Saipan since they are not originally from here. “At the same time there’s not enough land for the homesteading program here.”

“[PL 16-50] gives them the opportunity of having a place of their own—‘this is my land, my home, my farm, my ranch.’ They will have their names on the property and they will be the owners.”

Quitugua said that Aldan was passionate in convincing the Department of Public Lands to open up the homestead program in Pagan to help residents who want to return to one of the northernmost islands in the CNMI.

Aldan passed away on Jan. 18. He was rushed to the Commonwealth Health Center when he collapsed after having a late dinner in a restaurant in San Jose.

Reps. Ivan A. Blanco (R-Saipan) and Edmund S. Villagomez said that it was Aldan’s vision to help his constituents settle back on Pagan and cultivate the land.

“The late mayor really pushed hard for the welfare of the people of the Northern Islands. He is passionate in re-establishing villages up there, especially in Pagan. Amongst the other things that he wanted were economic opportunities for the Northern Islanders,” said Villagomez.

Blanco added that the CNMI should help make Aldan’s vision of developing Pagan a reality so people can move back.

“I think that we should not let any barrier stop us with that vision. One of DPL’s visions is to also issue agricultural lands to the people of the Northern Islands, for residents there to farm and cultivate their own land.”

Blanco sees a lot of opportunity for the island of Pagan. “I believe we could develop Pagan as an agricultural and farming island where produce could also help the CNMI. The only issue that we need to resolve is finding a way of transporting these goods from Pagan and to the other islands.”

“It might be a little bit of a challenge but there’s always a solution to every problem. We should grab the opportunities that we have in front of us and study our options.”

Rep. Angel A. Demapan (R-Saipan) said it was Aldan who put up the plans for the Northern Frontier program that would develop Pagan. “Mayor Aldan was passionate with the homestead program from the beginning. He was among those who planned to develop Pagan.”

“He has a vision and ambitious plans that is reflective of his spirit and passion of serving his people. What he wanted for the people of Pagan and the CNMI is to one day resettle on the lands that is rightfully theirs and build communities there like in Saipan, Tinian, and Rota.”

Jon Perez | Reporter
Jon Perez began his writing career as a sports reporter in the Philippines where he has covered local and international events. He became a news writer when he joined media network ABS-CBN. He joined the weekly DAWN, University of the East’s student newspaper, while in college.

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