NORTHERN Islands Mayor Jerome Aldan said he had not been aware of the military’s participation in the scheduled visit today, Friday, to Pagan.
He said when he confirmed his own participation in the trip with Gov. Ralph Torres and Department of Public Lands Secretary Marianne Teregeyo, he believed it had to do with the homestead subdivision on Pagan.
Nevertheless, he said it will be a “blessing in disguise” for military officials to be with them “so they will see for themselves why people oppose the military proposal to conduct bombing exercises on the island.”
Aldan said he is also hoping that the documentary, “Too Beautiful to Bomb,” which is about the ecological diversity of Pagan, will send a “strong message” to the military.
He said the film presents a “vivid reality about the beauty of the island so the future generation will know why people fought to preserve the island.”
In August, Save Pagan advocates Sylvan Tudela, Carlo Domingo, Roy Jacinto, Diego Kaipat and Gus Castro visited Pagan to shoot footage for the documentary.
Aldan reiterated his opposition to the proposed “militarization” of Pagan, saying his office is responsible for promoting and protecting the health, welfare, environment and culture of the Northern Islands.
Based on the information provided to him, Aldan said he is tasked to lead the tour of Pagan on Friday, including its designated homestead lands and its cultural and historical sites.
Aldan said he is “thankful to the governor for his invitation, and for giving me and the people of the Northern Islands this opportunity because who knows more about Pagan and the people of the Northern Islands than me. I believe this is a great opportunity to go up there with [U.S. officials] to show them what we are trying to build on our islands, especially on Pagan where the military base or bombing area is being proposed.”
Aldan said he is also thankful to the Marianas Visitors Authority for supporting his plan to turn the Northern Islands into a tourist destination.
“Although it’s just discussion right now, MVA is very supportive and is trying to help the Northern Islands as far as tourism is concerned. I met with MVA Managing Director Chris Concepcion and his team and we talked about offering something different to tourists and the MVA officials are happy about the idea and very supportive of it.”
Based on a copy of the group’s itinerary, those going to Pagan besides Aldan and Governor Torres, are the governor’s legal counsel Wesley Bogdan, Department of Public Lands Secretary Marianne Teregeyo, Senate Vice President Arnold Palacios, Rep. Angel Demapan, Tinian Mayor Joey Patrick San Nicolas, Rota Mayor Efraim Atalig, Matt Adams of Dentons law firm and the governor’s chief of staff Matthew Deleon Guerrero.
Also heading to Pagan are Assistant Interior Secretary for Insular Areas Esther Kia’aina, Lt. Gen. Anthony Crutchfield, Rear Adm. Babette Bolivar and three other officials.
The group will depart Saipan aboard an Osprey aircraft at 8 a.m., Friday.
Before landing on Pagan, they will conduct an aerial tour of the island and Farallon de Medinilla.
They will depart Pagan at 2 p.m.
On Saturday, CNMI and federal officials will resume their 902 consultations in the federal courthouse from 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.