Democratic Senators Call for “Meaningful Role;” And Immediate Convening of Guam First Commission

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Guam – In a statment released by Democratic lawmakers late Wednesday, Senator Tina Muna Barnes declared “What we want is a meaningful role in the decision making process and a clear understanding of what lands will be returned and when.

She was reacting to an address given by the Governor Eddie Calvo to the Chamber of Commerce Wednesday.

The statement includes quotes from Speaker Judi Won Pat,  Senator Judi Guthertz and Rory Respicio as well as Muna-Barnes. It accuses the Governor of  being willing “to allow the buildup to move forward unhindered for an unsubstantiated promise of $15 billion dollars in possible economic revenue.”

Buildup Committee Chair Senator Judi Guthertz is quoted as saying : ” Although I am described as a critic, the governor recognizes that Guam has a goal in this buildup as well. While that goal involves prosperity for our people, it cannot be at any and all costs. He also discussed how we as a government and a people should approach this buildup, but makes no mention of convening the Guam First Commission, which is the key to a successful approach for our community.”

Senator Guthertz  urged “the immediate convening of the Guam First Commission, a promise Calvo made repeatedly on the campaign trail and again after being elected. It’s a promise, she insists, he must keep.”

Referring to the Governor’s argument that the buildup will help the island’s poor, Senator Judi Guthertz is quoted as asking: “How then will this buildup help the poor? The Federal Government itself has stated that our people will not be able afford food, housing and clothing during the buildup period.”

She also states “During the campaign, then Senator Eddie Calvo repeatedly said that Pågat was not for sale. Whether you call it Pågat or Route 15, absent specifics, it encompasses the same area, and includes the ancient village.”

And in response to the Governor’s statement that Undersecretary Work promised that lands would be returned, and that Pagat would not be used as a firing range, Senator Rory Respicio reminded the Governor “not to be fooled by all the talk of promises and assurances that mean nothing as they are not bound to what they say during a meeting, or what they write in a letter, but only to what is set in black and white in the ROD and the PA”

And Respicio is quoted as saying that “The Governor is either allowing himself to be fooled, or is attempting to mislead our people.”

The full release is printed below:

Legislature Urges Immediate Convening of the Guam First Commission Hagåtña, Guam- In an address to the Chamber of Commerce today, the Governor expressed his willingness to allow the buildup to move forward unhindered for an unsubstantiated promise of $15 billion dollars in possible economic revenue. Titled “Poverty, Prosperity and the Programmatic Agreement,” the address focused on the economic state of Guam and the Governor’s belief that the buildup will address the condition of the poor.

The DEIS and EIS both cite that the cost of goods and services will rise faster than incomes, making basics like food and clothing too expensive for locals to afford. These impact statements also state that in the post-buildup period the island will experience a recession.

“How then will this buildup help the poor?” asked Speaker Won Pat. “The Federal Government itself has stated that our people will not be able afford food, housing and clothing during the buildup period.”

The Governor also cited Undersecretary Work’s promise that lands would be returned, and that Pagat would not be used as a firing range. Federal Affairs Committee Chair Senator Rory Respicio reminds the Governor not to be fooled by all the talk of promises and assurances that mean nothing as they are not bound to what they say during a meeting, or what they write in a letter, but only to what is set in black and white in the ROD and the PA. “DoD is only held to the two documents honored by the law.

Whatever is in those documents is final. Any other promise they make is not legally binding. The Governor is either allowing himself to be fooled, or is attempting to mislead our people,” Respicio closed.

“During the campaign, then Senator Eddie Calvo repeatedly said that Pågat was not for sale,” said Speaker Won Pat after she listened to the Governor’s speech today. “Whether you call it Pågat or Route 15, absent specifics, it encompasses the same area, and includes the ancient village,” continued the Speaker.

“What we want is a meaningful role in the decision making process and a clear understanding of what lands will be returned and when. Promises made are not the same as promises kept. Asking for this kind of understanding isn’t complaining, it’s commonsense,” said Senator Tina Muña Barnes.

Buildup Committee Chair Senator Judi Guthertz also expressed her reaction to the governor’s talk. “Although I am described as a critic,” Guthertz says, “the governor recognizes that Guam has a goal in this buildup as well. While that goal involves prosperity for our people, it cannot be at any and all costs. He also discussed how we as a government and a people should approach this buildup, but makes no mention of convening the Guam First Commission, which is the key to a successful approach for our community.” She urges the immediate convening of the Guam First Commission, a
promise Calvo made repeatedly on the campaign trail and again after being elected. It’s a promise, she insists, he must keep.”