Guam – A high level delegation of U.S. defense officials will be arriving on island on Thursday the 20th to talk to island officials about the next steps for the military buildup.
The delegation will be lead by Undersecretary of the Navy Robert Work, Assistant Secretary of the Navy Jacklyne Pfanenstiel, Assistant Secretary of the Navy Dr. Dorothy Robyn, Deputy Undersecretary of Defense Robert Ruark, and Assistant Deputy Commandant of the marine corps Bryan Wood. While on Guam they will likely continue to push for the signing of the programmatic agreement.
Meanwhile Senator Judi Guthertz has sent a letter to Governor Calvo urging him not to sign the programmatic agreement.
“I’m concerned that he may decide to sign the agreement or have the agreement signed,” said Guthertz adding, “The programmatic agreement one of the problems with it is it still references Pagat indirectly as one of the areas that our friends in the military want to excavate.” The programmatic agreement outlines how DOD will deal with historic and ancestral artifacts and remains that it impacts during buildup construction. Guam’s State Historic Preservation Officer Lynda Aguon, the Guam Preservation Trust, the National Trust for Historic Preservation, “We Are Guahan” and the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation are all opposed to the document in it’s current form.
The Guam Historic Preservation Trust, the National Trust for Historic Preservation, and “We Are Guahan” have filed a lawsuit against the federal government partly because of the programmatic agreement. “I’m afraid if it’s signed off on by the government of Guam then that will have an impact on the court case that’s presently before the federal court that was filed by the National Historic Preservation Trust,” said Guthertz.
The Senator is afraid that the legal interpretation may be that the government of Guam has acquiesced to Pagat’s use as a firing range complex. Recently there have been indications that the Calvo administration may be prepared to sign the document. In fact this is what Governor Eddie Calvo told the rotary club last week about the extension granted for the programmatic agreement. “And we’re not talking a lot of time I requested till the end of the month and to me two weeks is enough, and of course by then we’re ready,” said Calvo.
Governor Calvo’s Communications Director Troy Torres says that “If we terminate the negotiations now, we will not be able to negotiate anything futher.”
However Senator Guthertz says that is not accurate. She says even if a programmatic agreement is not signed, DOD still has to follow the National Historic Preservation Act and still has to mitigate any damage it does to historic sites and artifacts.
She argues that the lack of a programmatic agreement merely means they have to handle each project individually.
“Our military friends in the planned programmatic agreement want to be able to have one permit to do all of the excavations at one time and I have said from the beginning I don’t feel that is in the best interest of the people of Guam I feel there should be one permit per project requirement so that the local government has all the regulatory controls in place.” said Guthertz.
Senator Guthertz has also written to Assistant Navy Secretary Donald Schregardus urging the Navy to accept the need for “separate agreements for each” buildup project in order “to avoid disastrous and irretrievable mistakes.”
In her letter to Schregardus, Senator Guthertz argues that “one overarching programmatic agreement for the entire scope of the buildup is foolhardy and short-sighted.”
The Calvo administration has also re-iterated that the governor’s stance on Pagat remains the same that it is not for sale and the governor himself has said that he will not sign off on the agreement until it has been properly reviewed.