Regional mayors push for cockfighting ban exemption - KUAM.com-KUAM News: On Air. Online. On Demand.

Regional mayors push for cockfighting ban exemption

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Though the federal ban on cockfighting takes effect next year, island mayors from across the region are standing united: they're not letting go of the sport without a fight. On Wednesday, they passed a resolution to exempt Guam and neighboring islands from the ban.

President Trump signing-off on the Farm Bill makes cockfighting illegal on Guam and neighboring islands. The news isn't sitting well with regional mayors, including Saipan Mayor David Aputang.

"Since we were growing up our grandfathers or forefathers, it's a practice here for us in the Marianas and Guam," he explained. "The thing is the US Congress didn't even bother to give us the opportunity to whether we agree with what they're doing or not."

Not able to vote against the ban, the Association of Mariana Islands Mayors and Vice Mayors passed a resolution to make the law carve an exemption for the islands in the region.

"It's not about cockfighting; this is more important than cockfighting it's our right to be heard," Chalan Pago-Ordot Mayor Jessy Gogue said.

The cockfighting ban ignited a heated discussion for mayors. However, it led to more questions about representation in the territories.

"And if we don't have the right to vote for our president, we don't have a voting voice in the Senate," Gogue said. "And if we don't have a right to have a voting voice in the House of Representatives, but what you can't take away from us because you gave it to us is our fundamental right to petition."

A right that mayors believe should be respected, just like the consensus from this group of leaders, that cockfighting is a tradition.

"We support the Constitution of the United States...I'm a US Army retired, I wear the uniform for 20 years," Gogue said. "I'm always serving the United States at least give us the opportunity to comment on things. They want to put our livelihood on hold."

The resolution will be presented to congressional representatives from Guam and the CNMI.

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