Gov. Ralph DLG Torres will be leading a joint CNMI and U.S. panel that would go to Pagan this Friday. The trip is part of the ongoing 902 talks in regards to the U.S. military’s proposal of putting up a live-fire training facility in one of the Commonwealth’s northernmost islands.
Governor’s Office legal counsel Wes Bogdan, Senate vice president Arnold I. Palacios (R-Saipan), and Rep. Angel A. Demapan (R-Saipan) will join Torres, while Office of Insular Affairs Assistant Secretary of the Interior for Insular Areas Esther Kia’ana and Steve Eisner for the U.S. panel.
Torres said they would just show Pagan to them so they could have an idea of its environment. “We will just be showing them the homestead program.”
Last month, after the 902 talks in Hawaii, Torres gave instructions to push through with the homestead program. “I also instructed Department of Public Lands Secretary Marianne [Teregeyo] to move ahead with the homestead program that needs to be availed to locals up north.”
He added that they would also show the sites and areas on Pagan. “For them [military] to show us what they are proposing. And for us to see if there are any changes or amendments in their proposed project and partnership.”
The governor said he fully supports the military but disagrees with what was planned in the original proposal. The CNMI government had already signed a programmatic agreement for a divert airfield on the island of Tinian.
Several environmental groups had filed a lawsuit against the U.S. Department of Navy and Secretary Ray Mabus, and U.S. Department of Defense and Secretary Ashton Carter. The lawsuit has limited the U.S. military’s statements in their ongoing talks with the CNMI government about their plans.
Torres and a delegation from Tinian were invited by the military last month at Kane’ohe Bay in Hawaii to observe how live-fire training is done. They inspected the facility and watched how the live-fire training was done using small types of munitions.