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PA's signing generates criticism

by Lannie Walker

Guam - Not everyone was celebrating when Adelup announced the signing of an agreement between the local government and the Department of Defense on how historical properties will be handled during the military buildup. 

"I'm just glad it's done," said Lynda Aguon. "I really am. It's been a long process, the public got involved, they invited people to be part of the process and finally, it's signed. But the important is to implement that Programmatic Agreement." The Guam State Historic Preservation Officer may have signed the PA, but for some, like member of We Are Guahan's Attorney Leevin Camacho, the fight to save Pagat Village is far from over.

"We are disappointed but we are not surprised of the Programmatic Agreement being signed," he told KUAM News.

Aguon says she understands their disappointment, but felt she must fulfill her duty. "I can't fight the system what my mission is what my function is to protect historic properties and we did that to the best of our abilities me and Arthur [Clark]," she added.

Aguon faced intense pressure during the negotiations, pressure that was compounded by the fact that up until Clark, the governor's chief policy advisor, stepped in, she was on her own negotiating with the federal government. "I felt like the prior administration for the magnitude of the massive buildup project, they should have stepped in and provided legal counsel they never did it'd like they threw me and my director, Joe Duenas, to the wolves."

But according to Aguon, that changed with the involvement of Clark, who she says listened to her office's concerns - eventually leading to an agreement she could endorse.

While Governor Eddie Calvo says the signing of the Programmatic Agreement has opened a new and exciting chapter for all Guamanians some, there are some island residents who think it may have shut the door for the progress of political independence.  Hope Cristobal said, "These decisions that will have and impact on our political status decisions, and to me its just closing in this area and its precluding our aspirations as a Chamorro people that we hope one day to exercise our right of self-determination; they continue to consent to all these agreements that I think have a very negative impact." Former senator and indigenous rights supporter Cristobal may not agree with the signing of the document.

But if you talk to Clark, the man who shepherded Guam through the process that finally lead to the signing of the PA, Guam got even more than it had been bargaining for. "I understand the concerns about preserving Pagat," he said, "but really the question is is their concern about Pagat or is the concern preserving the history and the culture of the island? Because in that case especially in light of the concession we have from the military no tot be shooting over the Pagat Village and the cave area, I think we have done a pretty good job at preserving that site and in addition to get a lot from the military we would not have got otherwise."

Including over $12 million in funding for a repository, extended review of military projects by the SHIPO, an update of Guam historic properties inventory valued at $1 million, and the return of expatriated artifact to name just a few on the list of benefits Guam will receive under the agreement.

But for chief program officer of the Guam Preservation Office Joe Quinata, the deal is not good enough to call off a lawsuit filed against the DoD, which alleges the federal government failed to abide by Section 106 of the National Environmental Protection Act. He said, "The Guam Preservation still maintains our position with the lawsuit and just because the Programmatic Agreement has been signed that we have not failed yet that we are still pushing and we are still fight for our heritage."

And for Camacho, the Programmatic Agreement has not changed the end result they are fighting. "We have been trying to save Pagat and that not part of this Programmatic Agreement, but we will continue with our efforts as well as with the lawsuit to stop the DoD from building any firing ranges in that area."

From the nation's capitol, Guam delegate Madeleine Bordallo says the signing of the Programmatic Agreement is "an important step forward", adding, "while we have other concerns about the proposed site of the training ranges, we believe that the PA gives us the basis for working toward solutions that we can all embrace."

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