BREAKING NEWS: Military breaks its promise; governor signs on
A SPECIAL MESSAGE FROM SPEAKER THERESE TERLAJE:
It has come to my attention that the Governor and Navy Rear Adm. Benjamin Nicholson met with Senator Joe San Agustin, Senator William Parkinson, Senator Dwayne San Nicolas, Senator Roy Quinata, and others yesterday, to inform them that the military will be delivering a lease at 3 PM today for the Governor’s signature. My understanding is that the lease will obligate the government of Guam for in- kind hospital services to military personnel and their families in exchange for GovGuam use of 120+ acres of the Lålo/Eagles Field land. Further, the missile defense system will still be built adjacent to the new hospital, other restrictions including height will be imposed, and that the military can no longer meet its obligation under the congressionally sanctioned net negative promise to the government of Guam for return of land in exchange for the hardships put on the people of Guam to accommodate the negative effects of the military buildup.
It also requires the government of Guam to begin planning all over again because the over $1.8M spent by Matrix and all estimates by the Army Corps must be scrapped and additional unknown costs incurred to meet the tremendous obligations under the proposed lease. Neither the Army Corps of Engineers nor the Governor’s consultant, Matrix, planned for these types of terms when they asked the government to set aside $35 million a year of Guam taxpayers’ money and $300 million in ARP funds. It is clear that the cost will only increase tremendously and that they are unknown at this time, because no one has done a study as to what will be necessary to build a hospital to accommodate all these parties or how much longer that will take.
It is also unclear if the civilian residents of Guam will be the priority of this hospital should it be full, and without a copy of the lease we can only guess who the priority in this hospital will be if it’s full. But really, what is most egregious is the intentional timing of a lease on the day of the Governor’s State of the Island Address, while a bill that was passed unanimously is sitting on her desk, which simply asks the Governor to vet any potential lease with the Legislature and the people of Guam.
Without vetting, any Governor can single-handedly choose to enter into leases with the federal government and obligate the people of Guam for generations without their say. It is a mockery of our already limited self-government and the three-branch system and is akin to the naval governors of the past who ignored the wishes of the legislature and the people of Guam. There is no reason we cannot build a new hospital while vetting the details, the costs, the obligations, the location and to ensure that it is going to benefit the people of Guam first.
This is a huge step backwards for Guam after getting congressional and military support of the net negative promise, and follows a string of other broken promises by the military such as avoidance of historic sites, preservation of endangered species, mitigation of residential housing costs resulting from military buildup, and cleanup of contamination.
We might as well have a Naval Governor if the people will have no say from now on, and our Governor can single handedly deal with the federal government or some foreign government, and if the pursuit of land return, and justice for ancestral landowners is given up by one person,
acting alone after decades of struggle by our entire community.
Generations of leaders worked hard and together to stand up against the injustices of a long history of land takings and demanded accountability. We have our own resources, including land, and can surely build a hospital without loss of autonomy, loss of land, and without inflicting additional harm.