Calvo: buildup goals must be good for Guam - KUAM.com-KUAM News: On Air. Online. On Demand.

Calvo: buildup goals must be good for Guam

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by Mindy Aguon

Guam - Governor Eddie Calvo was the guest speaker at the first meeting of the year for the Guam Chamber of Commerce today. He outlined why he supports the military buildup and what he plans to do make sure the island benefits from the billions that will be poured into the local economy over the next several years.

As such, he won't commit to anything with the military unless he sees something in writing.

The January 31 deadline for the government to sign-off on the highly criticized and controversial Programmatic Agreement may have been taken off the table, but the Department of Defense is hoping for a resolution in the next month or two. The island's chief executive told Chamber members today that with the right concessions, that will likely happen, with Calvo noting, "If you listen very closely whether to Speaker Won Pat, We Are Guahan or Senator [Judi] Guthertz, they want to make sure that the most vulnerable among us have a voice."

Whether you're a critic or proponent of the military buildup, Governor Calvo says it's clear everyone wants the same thing, as he said, "They want to see Guamanians prosper."

Governor Calvo made assurances to the island's private sector leaders that the Navy's recent concessions on Pagat Village, an artifacts center,  land return, improving the island's quality of life through infrastructure improvements and their commitment for a Green Guam will be obtained in writing. Those concessions were made during last week's visit of Navy Undersecretary Robert Work and Assistant Secretary of the Navy Jackalynne Pfannenstiel as they sought to get some resolution on the Programmatic Agreement that remains unsigned by the Government of Guam.

Calvo say the Navy's concessions or what Undersecretary Work called the four pillars of the DoD will need to be included in the PA or in a separate, but parallel agreement.

"We want surety that Pagat village won't be affected by a firing range. We want their commitment in writing to the investments they will be making in our infrastructure," said Calvo. "Most of all, we want it in writing that land will be returned and that the federal footprint in the end will shrink."

The chief executive stressed how the return of land can open many opportunities for island residents who are currently living in poverty.  He cited examples - from the construction of affordable housing to restarting ancestral and Chamorro Land Trust processes and opening new public schools. Calvo urged members of the Chamber to seek common ground with others in the community to ensure the buildup is win-win for everyone involved.

"I will not ask the Marines to turn around and find another home," he promised, adding, "I will not turn away $15 billion to this island as our people are struggling just to get by.  I will not be a governor who errs on the side of political caution while the future prosperity of all Guamanians is in jeopardy. Now this can work for all of us. We can co-exist."

Governor Calvo also announced, "I want to be the first person to walk out on the tarmac and to greet those first marines to arrive and to tell them 'Hafa Adai, my fellow Guamanians.'"

Calvo added that he would like to see a resolution to the programmatic agreement by the spring time, before he leaves to Washington, DC in the latter part of February.

Several members of the Legislature issued a joint statement late this afternoon urging the governor to convene the Guam First Commission. Concerns were also raised with the governor's belief that the buildup will address the condition of the poor.  Speaker Judi Won Pat pointed out that the federal government itself has stated that residents will not be able to afford food, housing and clothing during the buildup period.

Senator Rory Respicio reminded the governor not to be fooled by all the talk of promises and assurances, saying whatever is contained in the Record of Decision and the PA is considered final. Won Pat also reminded Calvo of his statement along the campaign trail that "Pagat is not for sale", stressing that Route 15 encompasses the same area that includes the ancient village.

Senator Guthertz also reiterated to the governor to immediately convene the Guam First Commission.

Meanwhile governor's deputy press secretary Phill Leon Guerrero informed KUAM News that the administration has been doing a lot of listening to the people of Guam and the point of the governor's speech is after listening, he's come to the realization that everyone has the same goal when it comes to the military buildup. Leon Guerrero stated, "Anyone who reads the governor's speech as he delivered it to the Chamber of Commerce knows that he wants these promises in writing, in a binding document from the Department of Defense."

As for the conditions of those living in poverty, Leon Guerrero says the situation is only getting worse and something has got to give.

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