Guam – The Guam Police Department’s SWAT Team was on standby at Adelup Friday to ensure demonstrations outside a meeting on the Programmatic Agreement [PA] did not get out of hand. The PA will govern how historical artifacts uncovered during the military buildup are handled.
GPD swat was called to provide security during the meeting between Assistant Deputy Secretary of the Navy Don Shregardus and local organizations including the Chamoru nation and the Chamorro Tribe, “We are Guahan,” Fuetsan Famalao’an and the Guam Boonie Stompers.
It was a closed door meeting. Senator Ben Pangelinan and Vice-Speaker BJ Cruz were almost not allowed inside.
Afterwards, Senator Cruz told PNC News “My one comment to Shregardus and to Manley is the same comment I made to them last night was that we want the Guam legislature as a recognized consulting party to this agreement.”
DoD officials have pressured the Guam State Historic Preservation Officer [SHPO] Lynda Aguon to sign off on the agreement despite her initial objections. The document has since gone through a couple of revisions none of them to the satisfaction of the Guam SHPO. One major area of concern was the fact that the programmatic agreement was never given any public attention or a public hearing for that matter.
This despite the fact that public involvement is required by the National Historic Preservation Act. Finally after months of requests by the Guam SHPO, We are Guahan, the Chamoru tribe, Fuetsan Famalaoan, the Guam Boonie Stompers, the Guam Historic Preservation trust, the National Trust for Historic Preservation, and the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation a public hearing was held on the programmatic agreement just last night at Okkodo Highschool. But the public hearing was held just two days after Guam’s general election and without much publicity. We are Guahan member Julian Aguon says that the public hearing was a Disappointment. “From what I understand it’s the only public hearing and it was barely a public hearing because you didn’t get to hear anything there were actually no oral comments being accepted so what they were accepting was only written statements you put in a box,” explained Aguon.
Aguon was also present at Friday’s closed door meeting. “I actually think the example with the senators is the clearest manifestation of what’s so deficient about this whole process you had in the room when I was there senator or Vice-Speaker BJ Cruz and senator Ben Pangelinan in fact begging to be consulting parties and the fact that our own territorial legislature has to sort of appear as beggars is really problematic for me,” he said.
One of the reasons that this programmatic agreement is so contentious is that it provides a loophole in it that essentially would allow the Guam SHPO to sign off on DOD’s plans for Pagat. “The community We are Guahan and other groups like Fuetsan Famalaoan and all these other people are so unequivocally opposed to the taking of Pagat the desecration of those ancestral human remains but that’s all falling on deaf ears and that’s why litigation is the next anticipated move,” said Aguon.
The comment period on the programmatic agreement is only five days long and ends on Tuesday November 9. Speaker Judi Wonpat has sent a letter to the Department of Defense officially requesting that the comment period on the buildup be extended at least until Nov. 30th and that the legislature be included as a consulting party.