Getting Promises in Writing

Immediate Release: February 21, 2011

Hafa Adai my fellow Guamanians,

There are many problems at the hospital. But I assure you, a solid team now is in place. I’m gonna let them do their work so they can change things.

In the midst of the decisions we had to make at GMH, some very good news came from our federal partners. In late January, Navy Under Secretary Robert Work came to Guam and made some promises to us. He said the military will pursue a “One Guam” approach to the buildup. This means they will invest money into infrastructure improvements inside and outside the bases. The second promise is a “Green” and environmentally-friendly Guam. Under Secretary Work also promised that the federal land footprint will shrink and that there will be 24-7 access to Pagat village.

People, from the leaders at the Chamber of Commerce to those in We Are Guahan, said to get these promises in writing. Over the past few weeks, my Chief Policy Advisor was engaging the Navy on the draft Programmatic Agreement. This is the document that could address the fourth promise on Pagat village. And just last week Thursday, we got the Pagat village promise in writing in the draft Programmatic Agreement. Not only did we secure the promise of 24-7 unimpeded access, we successfully negotiated language that takes Pagat village and caves out of the firing range footprint. Guam will not give up ownership of the ancient village and caves.

On top of getting this promise in writing, the Navy also agreed to fully fund a cultural repository facility. Our negotiations are off to the right start.

This is a good sign as my Chief of Staff, Chief Policy Advisor and I go to Washington, D.C. this week. While the Pagat village and cultural repository promises were major steps forward, there is still a long way to go. We’re going to the nation’s Capitol with a strong agenda to get the best for Guam. And we’re not going alone. Team Guam is going together to represent all of our people. I’m so grateful Senators Judi Guthertz, Rory Respicio and Frank Blas agreed to join me in our meetings with Defense officials.

We will take our concerns over a number of issues to the top. We will negotiate the federal land footprint promise in writing. We will negotiate controls to ensure off island companies are paying their fair share of taxes. We will negotiate more funding for our infrastructure and for our capacity in education, public safety, healthcare and environmental protection services.

And it doesn’t end there. The Defense Department agreed to be our allies in trying to secure resolution to many longstanding federal issues affecting Guam. This includes war reparations, compact impact funding, visa waiver programs, binding political status, and control of our exclusive economic zone. There is a stunning future ahead for Guam. We want the political autonomy to be able to sustain economic growth well beyond the military buildup.

I’ve said many times before that this buildup cannot be viewed as the ‘be all, end all’ of our prosperity. We’re going to D.C. with unity, with the message that we know what we want and we know how to get there, and with the attitude that we can make this work for everyone.

I want to thank Speaker Won Pat, Senators Guthertz and Respicio, We Are Guahan, Guam Boonie Stompers, and the Guam Historic Preservation Office. They may have been critical of the buildup process, but they gave our administration a chance to work on things. We took their confidence very seriously and we we’re working hard to get the best for Guam. Getting the Pagat village promise in writing is a great start. Together, we can truly get the best for Guam.

This is a duty we all take very seriously. We know the problems in our community. We see the people struggling through poverty. We understand the dilemma facing our youth. And we know that a buildup that is good for Guam can start to answer many of our social and economic ills. We’ll guide it right. We’ll fight for Guam. And we’ll do our duty together.

Thank you and good night.

**Video file will be delivered to PNC, KUAM and PBS today. It is available upon request.


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