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Education campaign discussed by Decolonization Commission

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by Ken Quintanilla

Guam - Amid a few budgetary constraints, the Commission on Decolonization reconvened its second meeting today, wherein commissioners discussed moving forward with a mandated educational program for an upcoming plebiscite on Guam's political status.

In addition to educating the community on Guam's political status, the Commission on Decolonization hopes an educational program will help other fully grasp the issue on self-determination before making a decision on the future plebiscite. However, executive director Ed Alvarez says the campaign is going to be expensive, saying, "As we all know, advertising is not cheap and we definitely have to have print and media in this campaign, grassroots is good too, but print and media will get a lot more mileage. It's going to get expensive and it's going to be well over $2,000,000."

Governor Eddie Calvo noted that the Obama Administration has allotted $200,000 to the Commission - way below of what they need. Although they are financially challenged, several suggestions included conducting focus groups, using social media, television programs and commercials possibly via the Legislature Channel or PBS and working with the University of Guam to conduct surveys.  

He said, "So this is where we have to look where we're at: try to use as many economies at scale as possible, but then at the same time do not sacrifice the important ability to get this information out to the voting constituency."

The education program is critical before anyone can place there vote. Although this issue has been prolonged, some questioned whether conducting the plebiscite at the suggested 2014 gubernatorial election in hope of reaching a bigger group would be enough time for the educational campaign to be fully developed and affective.

Senator Ben Pangelinan, whose office heads the Decolonization Registry, recommended not setting a date and suggested using the registry as a soft money educational outlet for now. "Because every time you talk about someone about registering at the Registry, it's another opportunity to inform them about the right to self-determination about the need to, to say this is a right that we have and what the elements of that are."

A subcommittee was created to work on the preliminary report that is required by law to be submitted to the Guam Legislature by November 30. The date for the plebiscite was tabled to the next decolonization meeting on December 1 at 4pm.

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