Aldan: If DPL stalls, I will seek assistance from lawmakers, governor
Northern Islands Mayor Jerome Aldan’s top priority is to push for the creation of Pagan homesteads that he said the Department of Public Lands has stalled for years.
“I am ready to do it and I’m not saying I’m going to ‘try’ to do it but make sure that it does come into fruition because we can’t just sit back and wait for a miracle to happen. People have to open up their mind because it is not just for the residents of the Northern Islands but it is for the Northern Marianas descent that is willing to take up the journey in staying up in Pagan,” Aldan said Thursday at his office on Capital Hill.
“[The] CNMI has a high unemployment rate so a lot of the people can go up there and establish themselves. We can rebuild the community that was once thriving back in the days and the homestead is a must. You can’t just put them there and let them live on public lands because you’ve got to make them feel that the land belongs to them—a form of belonging and give it to them in writing and paper so that they have every right to claim the lands they are living on,” Aldan said.
He said the issue with DPL and the Pagan homesteads date back to the time of former NI mayor Valentino Taisacan.
Up to this day, not one single NI resident has received a certificate of ownership from DPL, Aldan said.
He said his father, Tobias Aldan, had also tried to push the issue with DPL’s former secretaries.
“If DPL continues to stall things as they did in the past, then I will have to go up to the Legislature and ask for a hearing,” Aldan said.
DPL’s main issue with Pagan is the lack of infrastructure but Aldan believes that that “shouldn’t be DPL’s problem.”
“The problem is how to give the homesteads and impose the provisions of the permits and inspect them periodically…that is their role. I don’t know what is wrong with that,” Aldan said.
He pointed out there is already an area on Pagan that’s been identified for the homestead and an agricultural area on the east side of the island.
“These are the things that had been surveyed for its perimeter and there are lot numbers assigned so we can’t just sit back and watch it happen, we have to make it happen. I’m not afraid to fail and I am going to do it with or without DPL,” Aldan.
“I am just respecting that DPL is mandated to dispose of public lands and that is why I respect that, but if they will continue to stall the program that we are trying to accomplish I will find another way to get it through,” Aldan said.
He said he had worked for DPL for 14 years and knows how the subdivisions are done. One example he pointed out was Kagman I.
“It was issued out without power and without water and people had to use their necessities to provide for themselves. We already did this before so what is the point of delaying things? We’re not asking them to build roads or bring water. The people of NI have stayed there for a long time,” Aldan said.
He pointed out that majority of the people who once lived on Pagan are now old and have filed claims for the lands that they have owned for centuries in the NI.
“They filed claims as family lands and up ’til this day nothing has been done to afford these people what they deserve,” he said.