By Emmanuel T. Erediano & Therese Hart
REPRESENTATIVE Stanley T. Torres yesterday expressed support for Guam Gov. Eddie B. Calvo’s quest for self-determination.
In an interview yesterday, Torres, Ind.-Saipan, said now is the time for Guam and the CNMI to come together and revisit their relationships with the U.S.
Torres was on Guam when 15 U.S. senators stopped on the island without informing Calvo, who described the “snub” as another indication that “we are not part of their constituency, and they do not consider us a valuable part of the American family.” Torres was on Guam to join his son, Andersen Air Force Base Fire Chief Stanley Jr., who received a National Firefighters Award, and to celebrate his granddaughter’s christening.
Torres said he wants Guam to be successful in achieving self-determination. He believes that the CNMI and Guam together will have a louder voice in asking the U.S. to “loosen its grip a little bit” on the Mariana islands.
Torres said he wants the federal government to give CNMI its “fair share” of the exclusive economic zone and to “stop making the nightingale reed warbler one heck of a restriction that slows down the improvements” in the commonwealth.
He noted that “Guam is really pushing faster in trying to achieve self-determination. I am not sure when would that time come. But I’m hoping that maybe before the end of this year.”
Last January, Torres re-introduced House Bill 17-7 which will create a commission that will revisit the Covenant and look at “alternative” political status for the Northern Marianas.
In 1975, NMI voters overwhelmingly ratified the Covenant, which established the commonwealth “in political union” with the U.S. The voter turnout was 95 percent and 78.8 percent voted to approve the Covenant.
The Guam governor is upset that U.S. senators arrived in the American territory without his knowledge and Congresswoman Madeleine Z. Bordallo says she “appreciates” his concerns.
“I will do what I can to ensure that future congressional delegations give proper notification to the governor regarding their visits. I can also appreciate that any congressional delegation’s plans are usually tentative until military planes can be confirmed. The governor’s point is well taken and I will work with military officials and appropriate committees to ensure proper notification and all due respect are given to the governor and other local leaders,” Bordallo said.
Sen. Judi Guthertz, oversight chairwoman of the Guam Legislature’s military buildup committee, said she expressed similar concerns in the past regarding disrespectful treatment of the island by the federal government.
“Sometimes we don’t get the respect for the island, not for us as individuals, just because we’re elected officials — no, I’m talking about the people of Guam. They’re coming to our home...sometimes it seems that they’re coming through our home, and to disrespect the governor, that’s very bad, that’s not nice. I understand how the governor feels, I feel badly for him and I hope he understands that this has been my concern in the past and I’ve been vocal about it. Respect the island, respect the people, give us the time of day. They could have at least invited the governor to be at Andersen,” said Guthertz.
“They just don’t get it. All these years, all of our efforts, and they still don’t get it. They just don’t take us seriously and they make us feel that we have no value, but I want to remind these senators that we are Americans, too. We are Americans, too,” she added.
The 15 U.S. senators, who stopped on Guam Monday to refuel as they headed to Hong Kong, included Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky.