Gov. Ralph DLG Torres, who has just come from Hawaii where he led a CNMI delegation in meetings with military officials and on-site demonstrations of military trainings, said that more discussions are required to ensure that both the U.S. military and the CNMI can benefit from the live-fire trainings being proposed for the CNMI.
In a statement issued Tuesday, Torres gave a summary of his meetings in Hawaii at the Schofield Barracks Army Base and at the Marine Corps Base Hawaii in Oahu and at the Pohakuloa Training Area on the Big Island—all at the invitation of the U.S. Department of Defense.
“The first-hand observations provided a better understanding of the military’s proposals for [Tinian and Pagan], as well as the environmental, social, and economic effects of the types of training involved for the armed force readiness,” Torres stated.
Aside from Torres, the CNMI delegation was also composed of Senate President Victor B. Hocog (R-Rota), Saipan and Northern Islands Legislative Delegation chair Rep. John Paul Sablan (R-Saipan), Tinian and Aguiguan Mayor Edwin Aldan, Northern Islands Mayor Vicente B. Santos, along with members of the Tinian and Aguiguan Municipal Council, and members of the Commonwealth Ports Authority board.
“I was pleased to learn of the rules imposed by federal and state regulations on the DoD in the course of carrying out training exercises,” Torres said, adding that there are standard procedures that are followed for pre-training activities, training, and post-training activities and involve experts on-site.
“We are very concerned with potential effects on our islands and on the welfare of our people. This requires a lot more discussions to ensure a mutually beneficial outcome while preserving our cultural values and way of life,” he noted.
Torres and the delegation were in Hawaii in early October 2019. Press secretary Kevin Bautista told Saipan Tribune in a previous statement that the governor was attending meetings on behalf of the CNMI.