PALAU: APIL Conference Focuses on Guam Buildup

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Palau – The Guam Military Buildup was the focus of the first day of the Association of Pacific Island Legislatures [APIL] General Assembly which is underway this week in Palau.

Senator Rory Respicio is leading the Guam delegation which includes Speaker Judi Won Pat and Senator Chris Duenas.

During his opening statement at the first day of the Conference yesterday [Wednesday] APIL President Rebluud Kesolei of Palau called for establishing a special committee to focus on the buildup and its impact on the region.

In his opening remarks Senator Respicio said the Guam Legislature is fighting hard to ensure that this buildup not only benefits the people of Guam, but also people throughout our region and we need your help to convey this very strong message to the United States Government.”  [Senator Respicio’s opening statement can be read in full below]. Respicio asked for the APIL’s support for a resolution endorsing Guam’s position on the buildup.

Meanwhile,  Speaker Judith Won Pat, who is APIL Vice-President, said that resolution backing Guam’s position will be acted on by the General Assembly by tomorrow [Friday]. In a release Won Pat is quoted as saying “Securing regional support for Guam’s position is important as we continue to seek a fair deal with the US government that addresses our concerns.”

And Senator Chris Duenas is quoted as saying  “Many of our island neighbors have an interest in how buildup proceeds on Guam because this will have an impact on them as well.”

READ Senator Respicio’s release in FULL below:

Island Legislators Focus on Guam’s Military Buildup

(Hagåtña, Guam) – Guam’s military buildup was one of the issues at the forefront at today’s opening session of the Association of Pacific Island Legislatures (APIL) General Assembly, being held this week in Palau. The Association is made up of 10 legislatures from island communities throughout the Pacific including Guam.

In his opening statement, APIL President Rebluud Kesolei of Palau called for establishing a special committee to focus on the buildup and its impact on the region. In his remarks to the General Assembly, Senator Rory J. Respicio stated that the Guam delegation, is seeking APIL’s backing of a resolution endorsing Guam’s position on the buildup. Respicio explained, “Recently, the Guam Legislature adopted a measure setting out Guam’s support for the buildup and explaining the need for action on the many concerns we have regarding the environmental, social, and infrastructure impacts of this expansion.”

Speaker Judith Won Pat, the current APIL Vice-President, said that a resolution backing Guam’s position will be acted on by the General Assembly by Friday. Won Pat stated, “Securing regional support for Guam’s position is important as we continue to seek a fair deal with the US government
that addresses our concerns.”

Senator Chris Duenas added, “Many of our island neighbors have an interest in how buildup proceeds on Guam because this will have an impact on them as well.”

Other issues noted in today’s opening session included Compact Impact, health, and environment.

READ Senator Respicio’s Opening Statement delivered at the APIL in FULL below:

Sen. Respicio’s Opening Statement:
Thank you Mr. President.
Håfa Adai.

On behalf of the Guam delegation I would like to say how pleased we are once again to join with you all in this General Assembly to work on issues important to our respective islands and our region as a whole.

Although duty calls us all to be in attendance at this meeting of the APIL, it is of course a great pleasure to have the opportunity to conduct our business here in beautiful Palau.

We in the Guam delegation would like extend our appreciation to our friends in the Palau National Congress for agreeing to host this General Assembly. Thank you for welcoming us to your country with your usual generosity and warmth.

This Association was founded on the premise that we as island leaders can achieve more for our respective constituencies if we work together collaboratively to solve problems and build a progressive future for the people we were elected to serve.

Separated as we are by ocean waters, our individual islands nevertheless clearly share common concerns with respect to economic growth, the environment, and the social problems that are the feature of life in the 21st century. It is only common sense that we look for ways to pool our limited resources whenever possible and seek common ground that will enable us to take more effective action with respect to these concerns.

It is with this in mind that we in the Guam delegation look forward to working here at this general assembly with you, our colleagues and island neighbors, to discussing these issues and develop collaborative and regional approaches to address them. In this same spirit, we will be presenting a number of resolutions for the consideration of the General Assembly on issues such as the coming US military buildup which although centered on Guam has implications for the region as a whole. We are fighting hard to ensure that this buildup not only benefits the people of Guam, but also people throughout our region and we need your help to convey this very strong message to the United States Government.

In order to promote regional collaboration and partnerships, we will also be submitting resolutions endorsing regional networks such as the Micronesian Youth Services Network and to also create a new standing committee of the General Assembly that will focus on Regional Networks and Collaboration.

We especially look forward to listening to the concerns and viewpoints of every delegation present here today and hearing your ideas and suggestions for coordination, mutual support and improved regional cooperation and collaboration. In this regard, we are certainly confident that together we can accomplish a great deal for our region and our respective island communities.

Please allow me to once again say how happy we are to be here at this General Assembly and to be here in Palau.