COFA negotiation commission for Guam urged

FSM President David Panuelo, RMI President Hilda Heine and Palau Vice President Raynold B. Oilouch met with Mike Pompeo, Secretary of the US Department of State in an anticipated bilateral meeting in Pohnpei to discuss the COFA and other matters.

Two senators have called on Gov. Lou Leon Guerrero to implement Public Law 24-330, which creates a permanent negotiation commission for the Micronesian Compacts of Free Association.

Speaker Tina Rose Muña Barnes and Oversight Chairwoman on Regional Affairs Senator Kelly Marsh (Taitano) said that over the last few months, the Public Policy Institute interns from both their offices have been working on a policy briefing regarding the impacts of the Compact of Free Association (COFA) on Guam’s local government.

Based on the briefing, the senators said it was apparent that there are many ways that Guam can benefit from continued dialogue on this issue.

“This Commission embodies the essence of working together as a region. Further, a recent resolution I introduced in the Association of Pacific Island Legislatures this July also calls for working together regionally on certain issues related to COFA. As local leaders, we need to use every avenue available to us and work together to further the needs of our people,” Sen. Taitano said.

Speaker Muña Barnes said: “Many times in Guam’s history, it seems that other parties are the ones that make decisions and we Guamanians live with the consequences – in this particular case, to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars in local taxpayer funds. I am glad that my predecessors in the 24th Guam Legislature, in their infinite wisdom, laid the foundation for the voice of the people of Guam to be heard and I am committed to continue the work of my predecessors.”

Carlotta Leon Guerrero, the governor’s chief adviser on military and regional affairs, told the Patti Arroyo show on NewsTalk K57 that the governor is still studying the proposal and Public Law 24-330.

She assured that the administration is doing all it can to make sure Guam’s concerns in the COFA negotiations are taken into consideration.