Guam – The We Are Guahan coalition held a rally Friday afternoon against the ROD.
Organizers gave the acronym for the Record of Decision for the Guam military buildup a new meaning dubbing their event a rally for “Realizing Our Destiny.”
Participants say the Record of Decision did not address any of the concerns raised by Guam residents, including the concerns about using Pagat as a firing range complex.
“Basically nothing has changed in their plan the community has raised a lot of concern we put in at least 10 thousand comments and nothing has changed at all and so this is our response to it you know we want to unite as a people we want to bring the people together you know it’s election time and there’s a lot of politics going on you know and we want to send a message to our local leaders that we are supporting the people who will defend this place people that will protect our home and what is important to us,” said Melvin Borja.
Borja is a member of “We Are Guahan” and one of the organizers of this rally. A rally that they are calling the ROD or Realizing Our Destiny rally. But the military has their own version of the ROD. It’s their Record of Decision and it has been signed already essentially marking the beginning of the military buildup. This is why they are holding the rally to demonstrate against the signing of the ROD. So what exactly is it that “We Are Guahan” wants?
Borja says they want the Department of Defense to listen to the concerns of Guam’s people. Concerns that include major opposition to the use of Pagat as a firing range complex. “We came out strongly and opposed the firing range in Pagat and they have basically said that they won’t take it now but they will take it and this is not acceptable for us,” said Borja.
Apparently it’s not acceptable for the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation or ACHP either. This council oversees programmatic agreements and they have sent a letter to the Department of the Navy essentially advising them to consider all of the other options available for a firing range complex.
Guam’s State Historic Preservation Office or SHPO has been opposed to signing the programmatic agreement in part because it has a loophole in it that could allow for the firing ranges at Pagat. John Mark Joseph is the state archaeologist for the Guam SHPO. “Basically what they’re saying is that they don’t believe that the Navy has looked at the full range of alternatives for that or taken into effect all the impacts that the firing range will have on Pagat village,” said Joseph adding, “and I agree that they haven’t looked at all of the alternatives hard enough and there are a lot of impacts that they haven’t looked at on Pagat village.”
This is one major reason why “We Are Guahan” is holding their rally because they feel their voices have gone unheard. The Advisory Council on Historic Preservation has also advised the Department of the Navy that the programmatic agreement should have been signed before the ROD. The ACHP is now advising the military to complete negotiations on the programmatic agreement and get one signed within the next few weeks.