We Are Guahan / Speaker Wonpat Don’t Buy JGPO Response to Programmatic Agreement Concerns

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Guam – Joint Guam Program Office Executive Director David Bice is defending the Navy’s draft “Programmatic Agreement” that the Guam State Historic Preservation office does not want to sign. Meanwhile the “We Are Guahan” coalition and Speaker Judi Wonpat don’t necessarily buy what Bice is saying.

In a statement issued Wednesday about the Programmatic Agreement, Bice said that the “Draft agreement includes measures for access plans, data recovery, curation of artifacts, public outreach, and education projects.” Both “We Are Guahan” member Levin Camacho and Speaker Judi Wonpat are highly sceptical of this.

“Recently General Bice was saying that DOD was gonna stay within it’s footprint and they weren’t gonna take any additional lands and here we are today he’s saying we’re gonna try to work out public access to historic properties so I think it’s reasonable for us to be a little bit sceptical about public access when he out of his own mouth he was saying that they weren’t gonna take any additional land,” said Camacho.

Speaker Wonpat said, “Long time ago they didn’t even allow families to even go to Sumay cemetery and because when this whole talk started again (about) this military buildup they started saying we better be really nice and work with the community and allow the families to go in there because we don’t want this to be a problem so they make a big to do to go in there one day. You know, one day of the year?”

The Programmatic Agreement is supposed to outline how DOD will deal with historic and cultural artifacts it impacts during the construction phase of the buildup. The Guam State Historic Preservation Office doesn’t agree with DOD’s plans and neither does “We Are Guahan.”

“In their programmatic agreement what they say is we’re gonna have someone supervise when we excavate human remains and artifacts and then we’ll send them off to a museum and then we’ll print out a hundred informational packets about why the site was important and then again that’s not protecting, preserving, and promoting the chamorro culture that’s getting it off of DOD land so they can build their new schools, their new homes,” said Camacho.

Bice also says that “DOD also commits in the draft agreement to seek congressional approval to provide additional funds towards the development of the Guam museum, which would go a long way to help bring this important project to reality.” Speaker Judi Wonpat says this project is already well on it’s way to becoming a reality and GovGuam found the funds on their own. “Now they’re trying to hang this carrot over here by saying well we’re gonna find you money now for this museum well thanks but no thanks we’ve done it on our own we’ve identified a funding source to be able to fund then this museum,” said Wonpat.

In fact the governor recently signed public law 30-179 that would allow GovGuam to borrow money from USDA to build a Guam cultural center and museum. Bice also states that “signing on to this agreement does not mean that GovGuam is endorsing any specific plan for Route 15 ranges.” Speaker Wonpat on the other hand said, “If that is the case then why are they objecting to deleting that in the programmatic agreement because if you delete it then of course your not going to be talking about Rt. 15.”

Both Camacho and Speaker Wonpat agree that the Bice’s Response does not address the major concerns that have been brought up about the programmatic agreement. The say it doesn’t address the lack of public input and the fact that the Guam State Historic Preservation Office is not satisfied with DOD’s inclusion of Pagat in the agreement and appendix D. This appendix contains a list of sites that DOD has deemed as sites that either won’t be impacted or don’t contain historical artifacts or remains. The Guam State Historic Preservation Office says they weren’t given enough time to review any of DOD’s findings in appendix D. This means the Guam State Historic Preservation Office can’t be sure whether or not these sites contain cultural or historical artifacts and they can’t be sure whether DOD’s plans would negatively impact sites they do know to contain remains or artifacts. “Guam State Historic Preservation Office has said that they’re not comfortable with the agreement they want the public involved and none of that was addressed by general bice so it may be called a response by JGPO but he doesn’t respond to any of the major concerns that were raised,” said Camacho.

On Tuesday the legislature will hold session and discuss a resolution opposing the signing of the programmatic agreement until the concerns of the Guam State Historic Preservation office are addressed.