Senators call for ‘pause’ in military construction

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Senator Telena Nelson (PNC file photo)

Thirteen senators of the 35th Guam Legislature have released a resolution calling for a “pause” to military construction on the Navy’s proposed Live-Fire Training Range Complex.

Resolution No. 164-35 urges Gov. Lou Leon Guerrero to call for a pause to all clearing, pre-construction, data recovery and construction activities related to the proposed training range at Northwest Field or Tailalo, adjacent to Litekyan.

According to the resolution, the pause is needed “in order to ensure the protection of the environment and historic and cultural resources of the northern coastline of Guam.”

During a press conference announcing the resolution, Vice Speaker Telena Nelson acknowledged that initially, she wanted to call for a “halt” to military construction activities but she agreed to change the wording to “a pause” in order to preserve the unity of senators on the resolution.

“I took a step back because I understood that our strongest efforts matter when we stand united. And so we are calling for a pause,” Nelson said.

During the press conference, Senator Therese Terlaje also said the military continues to engage in clearing activities although inadvertent discoveries of artifacts have already been made.

“So that is the concern, that clearing continues. They are clearing the data, clearing the artifacts, clearing the lusong, and the latte. They are clearing areas and not preserving in-site. The intent of the Programmatic Agreement was that these sites would be avoided,” Terlaje said.

In a news release sent after the press conference, Nelson said she drafted the resolution in collaboration with Sens. Therese Terlaje and Sabina Perez in response to recent events at the training range complex. Thirteen senators co-sponsored the resolution. Republican senators James Moylan and Mary Camacho-Torres did not sign the resolution.

“Long before we took office and prior to any policy governing this land, the ancient CHamoru settled the island of Guam. Our ancestors farmed the land, fished the sea, established impressive villages throughout the island and lived in close-knit communities,” Nelson said in her news release. “This is our legacy and, as the leaders of our island today, we have inherited the responsibility of protecting and preserving our history. This resolution marks our commitment to preserving our environment, our land, and our history. We want to ensure the Department of Defense and Navy stands with us in this effort as we continue to work together.”

Speaker Tina Muna-Barnes said that after a preliminary understanding of the Programmatic Agreement, as well as the progress with the development of Camp Blaz, she felt that she needed to include her endorsement to Resolution 164-35.

“This resolution, based on my reading of it, brings up two key issues as to why there might be a need to possibly pause this buildup. These concerns include the protection of historical sites, as well as the Serianthes Nelsonii. Calling for a temporary pause in the buildup does not mean I am anti-military it just means that as a government, we have to continue to do our due diligence. We need to quickly regroup, fully understand the impact, as well as the responsibilities, duties, and obligations of our Government of Guam,” the Speaker said.

Nelson has already scheduled a public hearing on the resolution set for 5 p.m. Wednesday, July 3, in the public hearing room of the Guam Congress Building.

Written testimonies may be delivered to the Office of Vice Speaker Telena Nelson at 173 Aspinall Avenue, Suite 202A, Ada Plaza Center, Hagåtña, Guam 96910, or submitted via email to senatortcnelson@guamlegislature.org.

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