Guam – Commission on Decolonization Executive Director Ed Alvarez spoke to PNC today to clear the air about some statements that he says he was recently misquoted as saying in a local newspaper article.
Senator Ben Pangelinan wrote a letter to Alvarez expressing concerns about the article and specifically about some of the statements attributed to Alvarez in the article.
Commission on Decolonization Executive Director Eddie Alvarez says that he never said that the political status vote or plebiscite was a Chamoro only vote. Alvarez is responding to a letter from Senator Ben Pangelinan in which the senator sites concerns about some statements that Alvarez was quoted as saying in a local newspaper. Alvarez says the plebiscite will not be a Chamorro Only vote. “The law is clear it says the native inhabitants that were on Guam at the passage of the Organic act in 1950 and their decedents,” said Alvarez. This definition means that native inhabitants for the sake of the plebiscite are defined as anyone on Guam who received U.S. citizenship as a result of the passage of the Organic Act in 1950.
Senator Pangelinan says it was this Chamorro only vote statement in the article that really concerned him. “We’re finally making some kind of progress on the decolonization and we’re finally getting some kind of action on the administration’s side with the empaneling of the commission and the meeting of the commission and we’re moving,” said Senator Pangelinan adding, “I think it’s very important that the information presented out there in the public is accurate number one that it debunks opponents of the decolonization process and the right to self-determination of using the definition of native inhabitants by it’s opposition that it’s a Chamorro only vote there’s no such thing as a Chamorro only vote in the decolonization and self-determination process of the people of Guam and I think that’s number one.”
Senator Pangelinan was also concerned that the newspaper article quoted Alvarez as talking about a second plebiscite vote that would be open to all registered voters on Guam. “What I said to the reporter was that after the plebiscite vote for which a status would be chosen then the constitution is involving all registered voters and they would vote on that constitution but it’s not a plebiscite vote to determine independence free association or statehood,” said Alvarez.
Alvarez also says that the commission on decolonization currently has no funding to educate the public about the vote for Guam’s political status. The article stated that there was a million dollars. “That’s not true its only $250 thousand dollars that we’ve heard about. We have wrote for that money we have inquired but we have not got an answer yet on whether or not it exists and how do we get it, but it’s not a million dollar grant from DOI,” said Alvarez.
So right now there is no funding in the commission’s hands for educational outreach but Senator Ben Pangelinan says there should be some money available provided that the commission presents a spending plan and request. “It’s supposed to come out of the Department of Interiors budget it’s supposed to carve it out and provide that to the commission once it submits a plan for the use of that money,” said Pangelinan. The senator says that Guam had originally hoped to get one to two million dollars for an educational campaign on the vote for political status but that amount was reduced down to under $500 thousand dollars. He says this money is only accessible if Guam provides a spending plan and if the Department of Interior accepts the spending plan.