FSM community meets with GAO representatives

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Samuel Ilesugam, Guma Mami executive director, said the two hours set aside for the meeting was not enough to hear the concerns of the FSM community.

A three-member team from the U.S. Government Accountability Office met with community members from the Federated States of Micronesia on Monday night to start off a series of meetings for a Compact migration study.

The GAO team is holding 20 meetings on Guam in three days. Emil Friberg, GAO Assistant Director for International Affairs, informed the FSM community that the accountability office received a request from Senator Lisa Murkowski, the chair of the U.S. Senate’s Energy and Natural Resources Committee to review compact migration or migration to U.S. areas under the Compacts of Free Association.

Carlotta Leon Guerrero, the chief adviser for military and regional affairs, told the Patti Arroyo show on NewsTalk K57 that Adelup has been reaching out to U.S. senators, including Murkowski, on a host of Guam issues like Compact Impact.

“This was partially in response to Governor Lou Leon Guerrero’s talking to senator Murkowski’s about the Compact. So they are out here for the renewal of the financial portion of the Compact,” Leon Guerrero said.

While the federal government seems to be paying more attention to Guam’s issues with regard to COFA impacts on the island’s local government, Monday night’s meeting provided a platform for the FSM community to share the challenges that they face as migrants on Guam.

Samuel Ilesugam, Guma Mami executive director, participated in Monday night’s meeting. Ilesugam said the two hours set aside for the meeting was not enough to hear the concerns of the FSM community.

“I think it can be an effective process. My only concern tonight is — I think the time was not enough for us to share our experiences. This kind of report has a far-reaching effect in terms of policy-making and decision-making. But for us to be just given two hours to share what we have to share especially given the number of nonprofit people that were here tonight. I think we had some good information that was shared. But I think more could have been shared,” Ilesugam said.

After hearing the concerns of the FSM community, the team will have meetings with consular officials and community members from the Marshall Islands and Palau to gain a wider understanding of compact migration. The accountability office started working on the study in Spring of 2019 with plans of issuing a public report by April 2020.

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Louella Losinio
Louella Losinio is PNC's managing editor. She was a former reporter for the Marianas Variety (Guam Edition) and the Guam Daily Post, former editor-in-chief and co-founder of the Pacific Island Times,. As a freelance writer, she has contributed content to various regional and local publications such as the Marianas Business Journal, Guam Business Magazine, The Guamanian, and Island Times. Aside from her decade-long experience in the media and print industry, Louella has experience in technical writing, education, and nonprofit management.