07 June 2013

Northern Marianas group against militarization of Pagan

NMI Descent Corp. opposes military use of Pagan 

The Saipan Tribune

A non-profit corporation representing at least 7,000 registered people of Northern Marianas descent has added its voice to the growing opposition to the U.S. military's planned use of Pagan for live-fire training.

The Northern Marianas Descent Corp., led by its president Ana S. Teregeyo, adopted a strongly worded resolution opposing the use of Pagan for military activities. 

The 10-page resolution was submitted as the NMD Corp.'s formal comments to the CNMI Joint Training Environmental Impact Statement/Overseas EIS.

“[The] officers and members of Northern Marianas Descent Corp., for and on behalf of the indigenous Chamorro and Carolinian people of Northern Marianas descent, unequivocally oppose and unanimously disapprove the proposed U.S. military development and tactical exercise activities on our culturally, historically, and environmentally rich, serene, and irreplaceable ancestral homeland of Pagan.,” the resolution partly reads.

Besides Teregeyo, those who signed the May 10 resolution were NMD Corp. vice president Karl T. Reyes, secretary Daniel O. Quitugua, and treasurer Rose T. Ada-Hocog.

Many of the comments from CNMI entities on the EIS are opposed to the proposed use of Pagan, but not necessarily on the use of Tinian, where two-thirds of its lands are already leased to the U.S. Department of Defense.

Gov. Eloy S. Inos, as chairman of the CNMI Military Integration Management Committee, has asked DoD to split into two distinct EIS the proposed Pagan and Tinian ranges “to prevent the downfall of one range because of the other.”

Teregeyo, in a phone interview yesterday, said the NMD Corp. represents 7,000 indigenous people, based on the NMD Registry.

The NMD Corp. claimed that historically, “the U.S. military is best known for covert operations, keeping secret anything they used or plan to use that may be harmful to the area, affecting and displacing people, animals, plants, wildlife, marine life, water, air and sea, permanently damaging and/or destroying the overall human habitat, landscape, flora, fauna, land and marine environment.”

It said the “most alarming statement regarding Pagan” is the U.S. military's intention to use “the entire island with a full spectrum of weapons and joint training activities.”

The group also asked that DoD comply with Sections 805 and 806 of the Covenant, which established the political relationship between the Northern Marianas and the United States.

The previous Fitial administration had offered to lease Pagan and other Northern Islands to foreign investors to generate revenue for the dwindling CNMI economy at the time. Pagan has a rich deposit of pozzolan.

DoD plans to use Tinian and Pagan to meet its unit level and combined level training deficiencies in the Western Pacific.

Guam training areas are already being used to capacity.