Won Pat-Borja: Statehood not so much the issue, Guam needs to have all options

Commission on Decolonization executive director Melvin Won Pat Borja (PNC file photo)

President Trump caused a buzz in American territories when he said he opposes the idea of territories becoming states.

The Commission on Decolonization, naturally, had a lot to say about this.

Melvin Won Pat-Borja, executive director of the Commission on Decolonization, told K57’s Patti Arroyo Tuesday morning that Trump’s remarks do not fully acknowledge Guam’s right to self-determination.

“Our response to President Trump is less about a desire for statehood and more about a desire to have every option available to our people. That’s the only fair thing. It’s the right thing,” Won Pat-Borja said.

Trump said during an interview with Fox News’ Sean Hannity that he opposed making territories into states.

He said he believes this would give the Democrats an unfair advantage in Congress.

“They are also going to add two or three states. I heard Guam..and two others you mentioned, as you know..that would give them six automatic senate seats. Automatic. No chance. It would be very unfair. And twenty-something Congressional seats. So that’s what they want to do. So if you give them what they want, we really have a one-party system. You could never catch up,” Trump said during the Fox interview.

Trump also seemed to suggest the additional stars would make the flag look awkward.

“They want to put two or three states. So they want to have fifty-three. Right? Fifty-three. What’s the flag going to look like, right Sean? What’s the flag going to look like?” Trump said.

The Commission on Decolonization issued a statement that says it is ‘troubling’ that the President would ‘so blatantly’ disregard one of the three internationally recognized political status options available to Guam and other U.S. territories.

The political status options available to Guam are statehood, free-association, and independence.

Won Pat-Borja says that regardless of the status an individual may prefer, the point is that it’s important to recognize Guam’s right to choose a status.

He says it’s important to remember that the Organic Act, which made the people of Guam U.S. citizens, was imposed on the island and was not voted on by the island’s residents.

“That’s not to say that U.S. citizenship has been a bad thing for the people of Guam. Not at all. However, it has not all been sunshine and rainbows as American citizens. Because we also have to keep in mind that the same document that granted us U.S. citizenship also made us an unincorporated territory. As an unincorporated territory, we do not enjoy the same freedoms and privileges that other U.S. citizens do in the continental United States. We don’t even enjoy the full protection of the United States Constitution,” Won Pat-Borja said.