Senators React to Jackson’s Speech: “Buildup Isn’t Just About Money”

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Guam –  Arguments regarding preserving Pagat village were characterized as “emotional” by several businessmen from off-island, in a Rotary Club of Tumon meeting Thursday.

Retired Colonel John Jackson, Director of the Joint Guam Program Office, presented JGPO’s arguments in support of the buildup, the majority of which were based on finances.

“This is an emotional issue,” said Speaker Judith T. Won Pat. “This buildup isn’t just about money. It’s not just about the military’s goals, or their perception that Guam is a ‘strategic location.’ This is about our hospital already brimming with patients. This is about our already stressed school system. This is about the further environmental degradation of our island. This is about the cultural survival of our island. These are critically emotional issues. More than that, they are the issues that will affect our people the most. And they are the issues that should be the focal point of these conversations.”

“The success of this buildup for the people of Guam cannot be based on the number of dollars coming our way,” Federal Affairs Committee Chair, Senator Rory Respicio added. “The people organizing this buildup must understand the history of injustices suffered by our people.

Although the injustices are rooted in our history, such as the abandonment of Guam during the war, the suffering is still continuing today, nearly 70 years later. This includes the failure of the Federal Government to pay war reparations, and the continuing treatment of the most patriotic of
Americans as second-class citizens. In order for the military and the federal government to gain the trust of the people of Guam, they have to right these wrongs; they have to do things right.”

Senator Judi Guthertz, Chairperson of the Buildup Committee also expressed concerns with Ret. Col. Jackson’s speech today, saying that “once again it appears that the buildup coordinators from the JGPO office are fixated on Route 15 and the Pagat area, the area around Pagat, if not in Pagat, for their firing ranges.” During the meeting Ret. Col Jackson said that he had discussions with Mr. Henry Simpson regarding joint use of the Guam Raceway Park area as part of the firing range as a focal point.

Senator Guthertz politely reminded Col. Jackson that the land is the property of the people of Guam. While she understands that Mr. Simpson is certainly concerned about the raceway park, which is operated by a non-profit organization under a lease from the Chamorro Land Trust, the
military buildup officials must deal with the government of Guam regarding property belonging to the government. Guthertz adds, “We need to end this lack of dialogue and lack of transparency when Guam future is at stake.”