‘Environment, people, culture have always been priorities’

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Posted on Jul 28 2020

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Gov. Ralph DLG Torres says he has always made it clear in his dealings with the U.S. military that his priority is the CNMI environment, its people, and its culture, so a House joint resolution that urges him to oppose any increased destructive military presence or training in the CNMI is not necessary.

Speaking at his radio news briefing last Friday, Torres pointed out that this has always been his stance since his time as Senate president.

The House Committee on Federal and Foreign Affairs is currently reviewing House Joint Resolution 21-8, which urges Torres to oppose increased destructive military presence or training in the CNMI, and is seeking comments from the public about it.

“The resolution is really not needed, for me personally, because I’ve been dealing with the military since I was Senate president, and I’ve always made it a point that our environment, our people, our culture is a priority,” he said.

Torres said he understands the importance of partnering with the U.S. Department of Defense, but also acknowledged “challenges,” noting, for one, the environmental impact statements in the CNMI Joint Military Training. “There’s projects that need to be addressed. This is the first time that DoD and the CNMI are on the table to look at what is their proposal, and what are the concerns of the entire Marianas.”

The governor highlighted the chance that the CNMI community has to express concerns in writing. “I encourage all of our people to [put] their concerns in writing. …I remember one of the earlier EIS; there’s 27,000 comments. We need to hear those concerns. I’ve been on this DoD and this issue for 10 years now, and the concern is still there,” he said.

The governor reiterated his earlier statement that he has never agreed to the Mariana Islands Training and Testing proposal, saying “for the record, there’s never been a negotiation.”

“There’s never been anything that addresses me of moving forward with the wishes of the DoD without putting on the table our concerns as a community, and our culture and environment,” he added.

The governor also said that he wants to maintain his good partnership with the Department of Defense, while incorporating the concerns of people, culture, and environment of the CNMI.

Iva Maurin | Author
Iva Maurin is a communications specialist with environment and community outreach experience in the Philippines and in California. She has a background in graphic arts and is the Saipan Tribune’s community and environment reporter. Contact her at iva_maurin@saipantribune.com

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