We Are Guahan: DoD message is still the same

DoD plans to acquire Pågat Village and the surrounding area, including the Guam International Raceway Park, to build a training range for the Marines. Contributed photo

We Are Guahan has issued a press statement following last week’s visit from officials from the Department of Defense, saying that DoD has not really deviated from its original stance.

During the meetings, the DoD officials confirmed that Pågat Village and the surrounding area remain its preferred alternative for the site of its five firing ranges.

Although DoD plans to acquire Pågat Village and the surrounding area - including the Guam International Raceway Park - DoD officials verbally promised un-impeded access to Pågat Village.  This suggestion is similar to the one made by Undersecretary Jackalyn Pfannenstiel soon after DoD was sued by the Guam Preservation Trust, We Are Guåhan and the National Trust for Historic Preservation for not following the law, according to a release from the organization.  

For over a year, the people of Guam have opposed DoD's plans to acquire any additional land or to build a firing range complex at Pågat Village.  DoD's continued plans of acquiring over 1,000 more acres of land and firing around and above Pågat Village do not address these concerns, We Are Guahan said.

“Un-impeded access to Pågat Village was never the issue,” said Leevin Camacho, a member of the organization.

"The messengers may change, but the message remains the same: DoD plans on taking Pågat," said Cara Flores-Mays.  

"Pågat, and what it represents, is worth more to our island than vague promises of returning land that was taken from our people decades ago,” she added.

The organization reminded Governor Eddie Baza Calvo of his promise and urged him to fulfill his promise to the people of Guam that he will not abandon Pågat, and that the Calvo-Tenorio administration will not agree to DoD expanding beyond its current footprint.

“Governor Calvo ran on the promise that Pågat is not for sale.   This means that he would never allow DoD to fire bullets over or around the graves of our ancestors.  This means that Pågat will not be traded to DoD in exchange for the return of thousands of acres of land DoD currently owns but does not use, or a promise to ask Congress for money to pay for a museum and cultural center,” according to the release.

"Machine guns being fired overhead, and grenades blowing up in the distance, are unacceptable impacts on Pågat Village and the people living in the surrounding area," says Flores-Mays.  "We Are Guåhan will not give up on Pågat."

The federal officials met with Guam leaders to discuss on-going issues about the programmatic agreement, Pagat, infrastructure upgrades and other topics related to the buildup.

Under Secretary of the Navy Robert Work, Assistant Secretary of the Navy (Energy, Installations and the Environment) Jackalyne Pfannenstiel, Assistant Deputy Commandant of the Marine Corps (Installations and Logistics) Brig. Gen. Robert Ruark and representing the Deputy Under Secretary of Defense (Installations and the Environment) Pete Potochney met with Governor and Lt. Governor Eddie Calvo and Ray Tenorio and Guam lawmakers as the buildup moves forward.

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