Speaker Won Pat: Guam Legislature Holding DoD’s “Feet To The Fire” On Programmatic Agreement

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Guam- Lawmakers want to make sure the Department of Defense (DOD) and the Joint Guam Program Office (JGPO) get the public involved in the Programmatic Agreement process under the National Historic Preservation Act.

In fact, Speaker Judi Won Pat says she’s asking the federal government to stop pressuring the Guam Historic Preservation Officers to sign off on a document that outlines 150 projects that may affect historic and cultural artifacts on island. The Speaker believes there hasn’t been adequate time to review these projects and that DOD has neglected to solicit public involvement. So now, won pat says the legislature is trying to hold DOD’s feet to the fire to follow the law.

“We’re asking that they go out and do a series of public meetings in the community the way they did originally” said Won Pat. “And we’re really trying to hold them to this. But if they’re not going to respond, then it doesn’t mean we’re going to sit back because, as you know, the Vice Speaker introduced a resolution already which we are going to hear next week. So the legislature will try to bring the public in and we’re going to present this to the Department of Defense and JGPO and to hold them to following the law.”

If the law isn’t followed, Won Pat says they will take the matter to the National Historic Preservation Trust for legal action. Meanwhile, a Community Roundtable is being called by Vice Speaker BJ Cruz and Senator Tina Muna Barnes next week Tuesday, September 7 on the Programmatic Agreement. The meeting will be held at the Legislature’s Public Hearing room at 5:30 pm.

Read The News Release From Speaker Won Pat’s Office:

August 30, 2010, Hagåtña Guam- Speaker Judith Won Pat of the Guam Legislature is calling for the Department of Defense and Joint Guam Program Office to elicit public involvement on the crucial Programmatic Agreement in accordance with the National Historic Preservation Act. Speaker Won Pat is asking the Department of Defense and the Federal Government to stop pressuring the Guam Historical Preservation officers to sign off on a document that is being described as insufficient.

There are over 150 projects outlined in the Programmatic Agreement that may affect the invaluable historic and cultural artifacts of our island. The Guam Historical Preservation Officers—there are only two of them—have not had adequate time to review all 150 projects and their impacts. Under the National Historic Preservation Act, it states that there must be public involvement in the review process. The Guam Historic Preservation Office has requested that the DOD and the Federal Government solicit the involvement of the public and the Guam Legislature, but to date they have neglected this important request.

“The Legislature and the public need to be able to examine this document,” Says Speaker Won Pat. “This Programmatic Agreement lays the groundwork for the buildup—and will affect the lives of every person on Guam. I am appalled that the Federal Government has not asked for our involvement. This is just another example of the flaws in the buildup process.”

The Speaker is supporting her colleagues Senator Tina Muna-Barnes and Vice Speaker Benjamin J.F. Cruz in calling a Community Roundtable on the Programmatic Agreement for next Tuesday. “If the Federal Government won’t do the right thing for our people and get everyone involved, we will,” she stated. “We hope the DOD will decide to hold a series of public hearings on the PA, as they should have a long time ago.”

The Community Roundtable will be held at the Legislature Public Hearing room Tuesday, September 7, at 5:30pm.