Guam – The Department of Defense is again pressuring the Guam State Historic Preservation Office to sign off on the Programmatic Agreement which outlines how DOD will deal with historic artifacts and allowing them to move forward with plans for using Pagat as a firing range complex.
The legislature is concerned that the Calvo administration may be willing to sign the document especially in light of what Guam lawmakers say is a request by the Calvo administration to Guam Historic Preservation Trust Board members to submit their resignations.
Department of Parks and Recreations New Director Pete Calvo says the Department of Defense has sent his office a letter urging him to sign off on the programmatic agreement. “They did send us a letter that the programmatic agreement as corrected from the previous as marked up I mean was what they wanted us to review and they were only accepting tweaking however the line that they did catch us on was that they were giving us another deadline,” said Calvo.
The deadline according to Calvo is January 14th that’s this Friday.
It’s not the first deadline that the Department of Defense has tried to set on this agreement. In fact the Department of Defense has tried several times to pressure Guam State Historic Preservation officer Lynda Aguon and her boss or the director of Parks and Rec to sign off on a Programmatic Agreement that both Aguon, the Guam Historic Preservation Trust, the National Trust for Historic Preservation, We Are Guahan and even the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation have found to be insufficient.
This is something that Calvo says he is well aware of. “Pagat itself is not for sale and the removal of that is something signifigant that we are striving very hard to make sure that that is taken out of that agreement and perhaps put on a separate MOA that will allow us to negotiate at a later time,” said Calvo.
Nevertheless leadership of the 31st Guam legislature held a press conference urging Governor Calvo to stick to his campaign promises of protection for Pagat. They are concerned that the new administration may be caving in because of reports they have confirmed that the Guam Historic Preservation Trust board members are being asked to resign. The Guam Historic Preservation Trust is one of the leading entities in a lawsuit against the programmatic agreement. “He has basically said that this is the administration that the people can trust and they’re gonna be transparent I trust then that the governor will do the right thing and continue to take the same position he has taken when he was a senator as a candidate and now as a governor,” said Speaker Judi Wonpat.
The DPR director says he is adamant about protecting Pagat but he is also concerned that not signing off on the programmatic agreement will instead lead to Guam having less of a say in it’s historic properties. “That statement that they’ve made is that they’re ready to do it on their own and my thing is do we want to remain engaged or simply be out of the game,” said Calvo.
Speaker Wonpat however doesn’t buy this reason essentially calling it a frivolous threat. “If that was true then why didn’t it happen a long time ago because my understanding is that in the previous administration that same discussion had taken place and the threat has always been there if you don’t sign off then you know we’re out of here,” said the Speaker.
In fact the Speaker believes that DOD is just using the same old tactics but on a new administration. “I think they’re trying of course to strong arm the new administration because they’re new,” said Speaker Wonpat adding, “We should take the bull by the horns we should look at that programmatic agreement and everything that is problematic we should delete reprint that whole agreement have all of the consulting parties sign off and then give it to them to sign and they would be the last signator on this programmatic agreement that’s what I would like to see.”
Lawmakers will meet with governor Calvo’s chief policy Advisor Arthur Clark tomorrow to discuss the programmatic agreement further. Also, Assistant Secretary of the Navy Jacky Pfanenstiel is expected to visit Guam next week.