In response to the ruling by Chief Judge Frances M. Tydingco-Gatewood in the District Court of Guam case wherein a vote by the native people of Guam on their political future is deemed unconstitutional, the Governor has the following statement.
“We’re very deeply disappointed in this ruling. I have stated time and time again that the people of Guam deserve to have their voices heard — and what more important issue that we have a say in than the future of our island, our government and our children.
The United States categorized our relationship as a territory, and by doing so recognized that the Native Inhabitants of Guam have the right to one day exercise our collective self-determination through a decolonization process. As such, we have three options for our political status: free association, independence and statehood. I have been very clear that any of these three would be better than our current status.
Additionally, there is mixed messages on this issue. The Department of Interior provided us with $300,000 for the education process leading up to the plebiscite vote. And then the District Court says we can’t have a vote specifically for the native inhabitants of this land.
At this point, whatever legal remedies may be available, including an appeal, we MUST MOVE FORWARD. We cannot let this judgment sway us from our goal of holding a plebiscite. I am proposing that we hold the plebiscite inclusive of all people living in Guam. If we want, there can be two separate boxes – one would be marked if you’re a native inhabitant and the other would be marked if you’re a non-native.
When I announced this as a solution to the challenge of constitutionality of the plebiscite and the question of the 70 percent last year, members of the Guam Decolonization Commission asked to hold off. Well, we’re looking at a District Court decision that says we can’t hold a plebiscite to determine our political future.
I told you at this year’s State of the Island that I would not turn my back on our people. We have a way to work around it. And I want us to take that chance. Where the District Court Chief Judge says we can’t — I say we can. I say we should. I say we must move forward with a plebiscite even if it’s not on the terms we originally envisioned. We have to act and we have to act now.”