by Krystal Paco
Guam - We may be sister islands, but the miles of ocean between us continue to divide us.
Hoping to bridge the gap, here's more from the recent association of Mariana Islands' Mayors, Vice Mayors, and Elected Municipal Council membership meeting..
"A Common Cause For A Common Good" - an appropriate theme for the 20th AMIM general assembly meeting bringing together grassroots leaders from Guam, Rota, Saipan, and Tinian.
Rota mayor and AMIM president Melchor Mendiola said, "We build up a better relationship and of course we're trying to help one another what our needs are and what their needs are something in common."
This year, island mayors and vice mayors are tackling accessibility.
For years, visitors and villagers alike have struggled to travel between the islands.
"The accessibility of us considering that Guam to Rota is a 20-30 miles airtime and that we have to stop by the airport two to three hours prior to departure don't make sense. We're trying to provide convenience and of course to have a more accessible flight schedules, so we can improve and increase the tourism industry and vice versa from the common wealth to Guam. Guam to the Commonwealth and the likes," he said.
For Tinian mayor Ramon Dela Cruz, it's not just accessibility, but also price and inconvenience that deter travel between the islands.
At $300 for a plane ticket from Guam to the CNMI, Dela Cruz says more residents would rather book a trip to Manila for the same cost instead.
He said, "I think the first thing that we should do is be able to link our airports so people can freely move about 0310 it's too expensive to travel from Saipan, especially because I'm traveling from Tinian. I have to fly to Saipan and catch a flight to come to Guam. There's no direct flight from Tinian to Guam."
But it's not just about encouraging travel between the islands as they're also working to relax livestock regulations.
He said, "One of the issues that I raised during this meeting was also the transportation of livestock. Guam is a major market for a lot of agriculture, produce, and livestock. We would like to be able to relax some of the regulations that are presently hampering the importation of these livestock and animals."
In addition to bridging the gap, Mayors Council of Guam executive director Angel Sablan says mayors awarded $1,000 scholarships for students on Guam and the CNMI.