SPEAKER Judith T. Won Pat said yesterday she was disappointed with the Naval Facilities Engineering Command Marianas for setting limitations on how traditional healers and herbal practitioners will be allowed to collect medicinal plants on a property they will be clearing for the military build-up.
At a meeting held at the Department of Chamorro Affairs yesterday morning, NavFac officials announced that healers would only have one day to collect clippings of plants on a 25-acre property they intend to level early next year and that healers will not be allowed to dig or pull tress at the root.
“The military is disrespecting our suruhånas and suruhånus by only allowing them one day to get only clippings of åmot,” Won Pat said. “Some of these plants don’t grow well in other parts of the island. Not being able to transplant them limits their chances of survival outside of their native habitat. Efforts to protect our åmot must be genuine and must be guided by the knowledge and needs of our healers themselves, not by the Navy’s construction timeline.”
NavFac has opened an invitation for local traditional healers to collect plants on federal property prior to vegetation-clearing associated with future military relocation construction projects. This effort is in partial fulfillment of the Department of the Navy’s commitments under the 2011 Programmatic Agreement for the Guam and Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands Military Relocation.
Won Pat said she will write to the Department of the Navy and Guam’s State Historic Preservation Officer to express her disappointment in “this limited process and to encourage them to allow more time and freedom for our healers to save our åmot.”