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02-20-09, 06:42 AM #1
What Guam thinks about incoming Marines
What Guam thinks about incoming Marines
Kyodo News Service
Posted : Thursday Feb 19, 2009 13:42:32 EST
HAGATNA, Guam — A Guam legislator has filed a bill calling for a referendum to ascertain whether the people of Guam approve the relocation of some 8,000 U.S. Marines from Okinawa to the U.S. territory in the Western Pacific.
Vice Speaker Benjamin J. F. Cruz introduced a measure this week that will give the people of Guam a voice on the U.S. military’s plan to build up its forces on the island.
Cruz also said the referendum will determine whether to allow the Guam Ancestral Lands Commission to lease Ancestral and Spanish Crown lands and the Chamorro Land Trust Commission to lease Land Trust land to the U.S. armed forces.
“The legislature finds the people of Guam demand greater participation in matters that affect them,” says “Bill 66,” which calls for a vote on military expansion.
The bill also calls for a special election that will be conducted by the Guam Election Commission within 90 days from enactment of the measure.
Under the bill, the people of Guam will be asked only two questions that are answerable by “Yes” or “No”: “Do you support the military buildup on Guam?” and “Shall authority be given to GALC and CLTC to lease lands to the military?”
”My sense is there are many who support the military buildup but do not support the leasing of additional public lands belonging to our people,” Cruz said.
He added, “This proposal shall give them the opportunity to make their sentiments loud and clear and to effectuate a law prohibiting the GALC and CLTC from leasing lands to the military.”
Sen. Judith Paulette Guthertz has also voiced concern over the plan to relocate some 8,000 U.S. Marine and their dependents from Japan by 2014 as part of the U.S. realignment of its forces.
“Our primary responsibility will be to make sure that Guam truly benefits from the buildup, and the people receive the benefits and assistance that they deserve,” she told Kyodo News in an interview.
“We must not be forced into a situation that will end up hurting our people,” Guthertz said.
On Feb. 10, Guthertz called a hearing on the issue criticizing the U.S. military’s lack of “open communications and transparency.”
She said the people of Guam will feel the impact of the buildup and therefore must not be kept in the dark.
“I hope that we will all be kept in the loop, consulted, and follow a united ‘Team Guam’ approach,” she said.
Many officials and residents have voiced concern over the impact on the environment of the military expansion and the island’s limited road and health infrastructure to accommodate the additional troops and their dependents.”
“The buildup, I’ve always believed, will benefit Guam greatly,” Guam Gov. Felix Camacho told Kyodo News in an interview.
“This is an opportunity where we partner with the military, and both the government of the U.S. and Japan to ensure that we plan and implement properly so that everyone will benefit,” he said.
Specifically, Camacho urged Japan to “recognize that there are opportunities to think outside the box and be creative.”
“We are also sensitive that this is Japanese money that could go to their people and to be spent abroad. We’re very grateful for that and we want to ensure that all their interests are also protected. We are just looking for balance, a balanced approach,” he said.
He added the relocation will take place in the “middle or later part” of 2010.
“I know it will start on time. If there are delays in its completion, no problem with that because we have more time to complete all that we have to do for the civilian side,” he said.
IN LOVING MEMORY OF MY LATE HUSBAND, SSgt Roger A. Alfano, USMC
ONE PROUD MARINE
Once a Marine...Always a Marine
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