Friday, June 17, 2011

VIDEO: Senate Armed Services Subcommittee Wants to Block Future BuildupFunds ...

Pacific News Center - Kevin Kerrigan - ‎Jun 15, 2011‎
Washington DC - Future funding for the Guam Military Buildup hit a wall of opposition during a meeting in Washington Tuesday of the Senate Armed Services Subcommittee on Readiness and Management Support.

Buildup projects at risk of losing funding

Pacific Daily News - ‎Jun 15, 2011‎
McCaskill also delivered a stern message that the defense spending bill would deny any funding of the controversial Futenma air station relocation on Okinawa and the military buildup on Guam until the Department of Defense considers alternatives and ...

Military Construction Costs on Guam Drop Up to 30% Amidst Fierce Bidding for...

Pacific News Center - Clynt Ridgell - ‎Jun 15, 2011‎
Guam - As a US Senate Subcommittee declares its intention to freeze any further buildup funding, construction costs for buildup projects on Guam have dropped up to 30%.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

U.S. Senators Eye Increased Military Presence in Subic

Guam - Some U.S. officials are reportedly exploring the possibility of moving some U.S. forces from Okinawa to Subic Bay in the Philippines, and scaling down the move to Guam, according to a report on

U.S. Senators Daniel Inouye and Thad Cochran made a quick re-fueling stop on Guam earlier this week and then flew onto Subic Bay where, according to the Inquirer report, they visited the Subic Free Port and met with Olongapo Mayor James Gordon Jr.

Gordon told the Inquirer that the Senators wanted to see the success of the free port, which the U.S. left 20 years ago after the Philippine Senate rejected a treaty extending the stay of U.S. military bases in the country.

READ the report on

The Inquirer raised the question of whether the U.S. is exploring the possibility of moving U.S. Marines in Okinawa to Subic Bay, rather than Guam.

But Outgoing Subic Bay Administrator Armand Arreza told the Inquirer that the possibility of Subic being an alternative site to Guam was “officially not discussed.”

However, the Inquirer quotes un-named sources as saying that Senators Inouye and Cochran "appeared to be interested in the possibility of an increased presence of the US military [in Subic Bay] ... they were curious about the reception in the [Philippines] of an [increased presence of the US military] here.”

Mayor Gordon told the Inquirer that he would "welcome" a return of U.S. Forces. "We want two economies here—the one that is free port-based and the other [which relies on support services] to the US military. They can coexist here."

Mayor Gordon said Inouye and Cochran also discussed the delays in the transfer of US bases in Japan to Guam, telling the Inquirer that the Guam build-up would be scaled down following the Japan disaster.

The Inquirer also reports that this past March, in the wake of the disasters in Japan, US Ambassador to the Philippines Harry Thomas Jr. also met with Subic Bay Officials and briefed them about the impact that the earthquake and tsunami that hit Japan would have on the transfer of US military bases in Okinawa to Guam.
Written by Kevin Kerrigan -

Thursday, September 23, 2010

White House Questions $320M Reduction in Guam Buildup Funding

Guam - The White House questioning Congress's $320 million dollar reduction in funding to the Navy for Guam buildup projects and re-affirming its support for the infrastructure needs of Guam, both on and off base.

In a Statement of Administration Policy on the National Defense Authorization Act, the Office of Management and Budget comments that "the Administration is committed to addressing the needs in Guam (both on base and off) to allow for the realignment of Marines and their families from Japan."

But in the Statement to Senate's Armed Service's Committee Chairman Senator Carl Levin, the Administration also expresses concern about with the $320 million reduction in funding for Navy construction on Guam. The Administration argues that deferral of fudning will only increase costs in the future.

The White House Statement was issued as the Armed Services Committee takes up consideration of S. 3454 - the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2011. - Written by Kevin Kerrigan

Sunday, July 18, 2010

U.S. Senate Panel Cuts Guam Buildup Budget By 70%

"Raises doubts about the prospects for the relocation plan"

Guam - In Washington Thursday, a U.S. Senate panel cut 70% of the funding in the 2011 Defense Authorization Act that was meant to help pay for the transfer of more than 8,000 Marines from Okinawa to Guam.

The Senate Appropriations Committee voted to cut out some $320 million from the relocation budget in the 2011 Defense Authorization Act that covers military spending from this October to September of 2011.

The move follows a similar cut by a U.S. House Subcommittee which on Wednesday decided to reduce the re-location expenditure by 61 % , slicing off $279.2 million from the bill.

3 of 4 Congressional panels involved in screening the budget for the Marines relocation have now decided to cut back on the appropriation, and according to a Kydodo report, that raises doubts about the prospects for the relocation plan.

Read the Kydodo Report

Kyodo quotes congressional sources as saying the cuts have been made because of delays in the preparations for creating an environment to host the Marines on Guam, as well as the delay in procuring the necessary land. Written by Kevin Kerrigan

Saturday, May 15, 2010

No OFW deployment to Guam this year

by People's Tonight

THE decision of Japan’s Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama to freeze a 1996 agreement with the U.S. to replace Futenma Marine Corps Air Station to another part of Okinawa will certainly scuttle plans of recruitment agencies to deploy Filipino construction workers to Guam.

Japan’s prime minister says moving all of a key U.S. Marine base out of Okinawa is “impossible,” breaking with past promises to move the base outside the southern island.

It was the first time since Yukio Hatoyama became prime minister in September that he officially acknowledged that at least part of Futenma Marine air field would remain in Okinawa, which hosts more than half the 47,000 American troops based in Japan.

Hatoyama had frozen a 2006 agreement with Washington on moving Futenma to a less crowded part of the island, straining ties with the U.S.

The Philippine Overseas Employment Administration has been meeting with‘Guam legislators and businessmen for the past three years with the eventual deployment of 20,000 Filipino construction workers to Guam. This amid with the implementation of a 2006 treaty moving the Marine Base right smack in Futenma to safer place.

OFWs are raring to work in Guam may have to wait till next year as this yawning rift between Tokyo and Washington is patched up soon.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Guam Shipyard Gets $10.4 Million Sealift Command Contract

The ship requires maintenance and repair, as well as modifications including the installation of equipment and systems for operation by MSC civil service mariners in keeping with U.S. merchant marine standards. The modifications are to better equip the vessel for MSC’s reduced manning profile.Guam -

Guam Industrial Services, Inc., dba Guam Shipyard, Santa Rita, Guam, is being awarded a $10,404,769 firm-fixed-price contract for the civilian modification of the Military Sealift Command (MSC) submarine tender USS Frank Cable, which transferred to MSC operation on Feb. 1, 2010.

The ship’s primary mission is to provide repairs, spare parts, provisions, stores, potable water, consumables, and petroleum to the Navy’s submarines and other naval forces at sea. This contract includes options which, if exercised, would bring the cumulative value of this contract to $15,116,641. Work will be performed at Guam Shipyard in Santa Rita, Guam, and is expected to be completed by September 2010.

Contract funds will expire at the end of the current fiscal year. This contract was not competitively procured; it was procured on a sole-source basis for the purposes of industrial mobilization. A pre-solicitation notice was posted on the Federal Business Opportunities Web site in order to provide public notice of the intent to issue a sole-source contract.

No other contractors expressed interest in this procurement. The U.S. Navy’s Military Sealift Command is the contracting activity (N00033-10

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Guam-Olongapo Center of Best Practices proposed

Calvo proposes economic think-tank

Guam Sen. Eddie Calvo shared the stage with Philippine presidential candidate and Sen. Richard Gordon on Friday at an Asia-Pacific mayors' conference, where Calvo proposed a joint economic think-tank with Olongapo City.

Olongapo once was host to a U.S. Navy base at Subic Bay, and has successfully transformed itself into an international trade center when U.S. troops pulled out two decades ago.

Calvo, who is running for governor in the November General Election, said the proposed Guam-Olongapo Center for Best Practices "will be so much more than a think tank for our two communities."

"There is so much our communities can learn from each other. This center can examine what works and how we can improve the practices that lead to our economic vitality," according to Calvo's speech at the conference. "It can promote our core competencies to each other and work to involve both our communities in an active exchange of ideas and programs geared toward mutual prosperity."

His speech followed a keynote address by Gordon, who led Subic's shift from having been a military town to an international business hub.

"Our hometowns ... can be known for our forward movement of people, starving for greatness, building dreams, and making our mark in the world," Calvo added.

Calvo and Sen. Tina Muna Barnes were among the Guam guests at the conference.

"Guam is at the starting gate of heated economic growth," according to Calvo, referring to the looming military buildup. "What we do and how we see ourselves as global contributors will determine the future ahead. It all starts with a vision far beyond what some would accept, and the belief that we can reach it. That was the beginning of Olongapo's road to success, and it is one that is working."

Thursday, February 18, 2010

APILG SPEAKER - Captain Ulysses O. Zalamea

Backgrounder on Captain Ulysses O. Zalamea

The most anticipated speaker at the upcoming 3rd Annual Pacific Islands Local Government (APILG) conference that will be hosted by the city of Olongapo on February 18-21, 2010, is Captain Ulysses O. Zalamea, the Deputy Director of the Joint Guam Program Office, who is in charge of the planning and execution of the redeployment of US military forces from Okinawa to Guam. Popularly referred to as “the US military Guam build-up,” the project will begin in 2010 and is expected to take more than 4 years to complete at a cost of $20 billion

Captain Zalamea, the US Navy officer in charge of one of the most important and biggest infrastructure projects in the Pacific region in the last 30 years, is the highest ranking Filipino American in the U.S. Navy.

Captain Ulysses 0. Zalamea was born on November 27, 1956 to Francisco and Narcisa Zalamea in Pagsanjan, Laguna, Philippines. Zalamea is married to Mrs. Jean Zalamea.

Captain Ulysses 0. Zalamea earned his Bachelor of Science Degree from the Far Eastern University in Manila, Philippines in 1977. He enlisted in the U.S. Navy in Subic Naval Base in the Philippines on November 1977 and completed his basic training at Recruit Training Command, San Diego, California.

In May 1978, Zalamea reported to the Navy Recruiting District in Los Angeles, California as the Enlisted Programs Officer. Captain Zalamea attended Surface Warfare Officers School (Basic) at Coronado, California following commissioning via Officer Candidate School in 1983. He then served as Anti-Submarine Warfare Officer and Damage Control Assistant on the USS GRAY.

In December 1989, he returned to sea after graduating from Surface Warfare Department Head School. His Department Head tours included assignments as Operations Officer aboard the USS RACINE and as the First Lieutenant on the USS MOBILE. He twice served on the staff of the Commander, Amphibious Force, U.S. Seventh Fleet asAssistant Plans Officer and as Chief of Staff for Plans and Operations,in August 1993 and again in March 2003 respectively.

In 1995, Zalamea attended the Naval War College and was awarded a Master of Arts in National Security and Strategic Studies. After graduation, he returned to sea and assumed duties as Executive Officer of the USS GERMANTOWN. In October 1997, Captain Ulysses 0. Zalamea reported to the Bureau of Naval Personnel in Washington, D.C. and later, as the Surface Lieutenant Commander Assignment Branch Head.

In 1999, he was posted to the Pentagon where he served in the Office of the Chief of Naval Operations, Politico-Military Affairs Branch, East Asia and Pacific. In April 2001, Captain Zalamea took command of the USS OAK HILL. In June 2005, Captain Zalamea reported as the Director of Armaments Cooperation Division at the U.S. Mission to NATO in Brussels, Belgium. There, he is the Deputy Director for the Armaments Cooperation Division. Working closely with Office of the Secretary of Defense principals, he also serves as the U.S. representative to the NATO Committee for Standardization and the NATO-European Union Capability Group.

In May 2007, Zalamea became commander of the Maritime Prepositioning Ships Squadron Three of the U.S. Navy. In 2008, Zalamea was appointed Deputy Director of the U.S. Department of Defense’s Joint Guam Program Office (JGPO), responsible for the planning and execution of the $20 billion U.S. military redeployment and buildup on Guam and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI).

Captain Ulysses 0. Zalamea has been awarded the Meritorious Service Medal Award three (3) times, the Navy Commendation Medal six (6) times, the Navy Achievement Medal and various other medals and service ribbons.
“We are very proud of Captain Zalamea,” said Olongapo Mayor “Bong” Gordon. “He joined the U.S. Navy here in Olongapo back in 1977.

“He is the reason why many contractors are attending the 3rd APILG conference,” added Aurelio Pineda, overall director of the conference and president of the Metro Olongapo Chamber of Commerce, one of the organizers of the conference.

For more information about the 3rd APILG Conference pls call Mr. Aurelio “Bong” Pineda (Overall Conference Director): 09192471062

Prepared by Dean Alegado
3rd APILG Conference
Executive Director
Contact Phone Number: 047-638-4062/Conference Secretariat

GUAM BUILDUP UPDATE. Guam Senators, Mayors, Guam Buildup officials, contractors and manpower providers will be having a convention at Subic Bay Exhibition and Convention Center(SBECC). You are cordially invited to join us on Saturday 20 Feb for the orientation/update at SBECC anytime from 8am to 5pm. See you at the Guam Task Force booth.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Filipinos may soon come to Guam without US Visa

Resolution requests Philippine visa waiver


In a unanimous vote at the Legislature yesterday lawmakers passed a resolution that includes language asking the federal government to allow visitors from the Philippines to come to Guam without a visa.

Sen. Eddie Calvo had included language in Resolution 275 to fight for a Guam-CNMI visa waiver program with the Republic of the Philippines, a press release from his office stated.

The resolution, sponsored by Sens. Rory Respicio and Judith Guthertz and Speaker Judith Won Pat, reiterates that Guam's priority concerns on federal-territorial issues must be addressed concurrently with the military buildup. But Calvo has tailored the resolution to include the visa-waiver issue.

"So many of our people have family living in the Philippines who have a hard time coming to Guam because of federal travel restrictions," he said.

Calvo, a 2010 gubernatorial candidate, also added a provision asking the federal government to provide greater access to health care in Manila. Finding No. 9 of the resolution asks the federal government to reimburse Medicare and Medicaid costs incurred by U.S.-accredited health institutions in the Philippines for services rendered to Guam patients receiving care there.

Also as part of the resolution, the Legislature is requesting the following be honored:

  • Establishment of a secure Guam-only visa waiver program;

  • Removal of caps from Medicaid and all federally mandated public assistance programs;

  • Allowing Guam to control its Exclusive Economic Zone; and

  • Exemption from the Jones Act, which currently requires all goods transported by water between U.S. ports be carried in U.S. vessels.

    The resolution will be sent to President Obama and Congress, according to the release.

  • Projected if H-2s work on buildup projects

    Big losses projected if H-2s work on buildup projects

    by Mindy Aguon -

    Guam - Vice-Speaker B.J. Cruz says Guam's economy stands to lose hundreds of millions of dollars if H-2 workers are allowed to be utilized for military buildup-related construction projects. Cruz has asked Congresswoman Madeleine Bordallo to reconsider her position on allowing H-2 workers for buildup construction activities.

    He told KUAM News, "I'm just asking that she reconsider the Abercrombie amendment, which is suggesting a 30% maximum of H-2 laborers, and if we reduce it to that amount then we'll have more money floating in the economy." He added, "If you're going to force it down our throat, then I want every penny that's absolutely possible to accrue to the local people."

    Estimates in the Draft Environmental Impact Statement project that H-2 workers will spend about 20% of their money in the local economy, compared to 45% to be spent by workers hired locally. Cruz says if the H-2 workers spent at the same level as locally-hired workers, Guam's economy would benefit by approximately $368.5 million.


    Echo 5 Items
    I agree regarding H-2 vs. Locals. I couldn't imagine a local out there working with concrete blocks. Not just because of the heat, but if they make too much they might loose their food stamps and Sec. 8 housing. Better to play it safe and not work a "temporary" job and keep the food stamps and Sec. 8 housing.
    What is wrong with BJ Cruz? First, he wants the entire $5 billion from the military build up taxed here in Guam. Now he wants 70-30 percent labor share of local/H2 workers for the buildup. Does he think he can gather 14,000 (70% of 20,000) local workers doing hard work in the sun? So easy for him to say, he doesn't have the slightest idea on this matter. Probably he still haven't recovered from that loss on his same-sex bill thingie. LOL
    Can the kind Senator B.J. Cruz provide the number or percentage of "Chamorru" construction workers we have on Guam? This includes those who work in digging ditches, tie re-bar, masons, carpenters, plumbers, steel frame workers, pipe benders, metal formers, sheet metal workers and the like. Realistically, Guam does not have the skill labor for a great portion of these noted professions. Thus, the requirement for H-2 workers. Historically, locals only look for the comfy government jobs. They don't like digging ditches or getting their hands dirty and we all know this is fact! I can remember years ago when Filipinos held all the remedial and physical labor jobs, then the micronesians took these jobs. You would hardly ever see a Chamorru sweeping or mopping a floor or serving at a fast food place. It was just below them to do this type of work. I'm local, but I support the H2 labor. If the H2's aren't brought in to do the work, do you think the Chamorru will step up to the plate and dig ditches or tie rebar? I don't think so!

    Legislature Passes Buildup Resolution

    Guam ( - The Guam Legislature unanimously passed a resolution Thursday afternoon, which functions as the official comment on the Draft Environmental Impact Statement from the body.

    The resolution is authored by Senator Rory Respicio, Senator Judith Guthertz, and Speaker Judi Won Pat. All other senators are co-sponsors. Resolution No. 275 outlines many concerns raised about the DEIS and makes recommendations for Congress to address long-standing local issues in light of the coming military buildup.

    A delegation of Senators are planning to present the resolution personally in Washington D.C. in March.

    Lawmakers from both sides of the aisle worked together to agree on the language included in the resolution. Two days of working sessions were conducted, allowing the body to come to a consensus on the important document. Among the issues requested to be addressed are:

    · Self-determination

    · Unreturned ancestral lands

    · War reparations

    · Inclusion in the Supplemental Security Income program

    · Exemption from the Jones Act

    · Removal of caps from Medicaid and all federally mandated public assistance programs

    · Full reimbursement for impact costs as a result of the Compacts of Free Association

    · Cleaning-up of environmental hazards that were created or augmented by the federal government

    · Full participation in economic stimulus legislation

    · Establishment of a secure Guam-only visa waiver program

    · Inclusion of the Philippines, Russia and China in the Visa-Waiver Program

    · Reimbursement for Earned Income Tax Credits paid or owed

    The Legislature also asserted a number of findings it is requesting to be honored:

    * Executive and Congressional intervention mandating the Department of Defense present a revised DEIS that can be reviewed and commented on
    * Reconcile inconsistencies with DoD studies and those from the General Accountability office regarding the military buidup
    * Establish a Civil-Military Advisory Council
    * Asses the need for an omnibus appropriations bill addressing the needs of the buildup
    * Conduct a proper and accurate assessment on the additional revenue that will be collected as a result of the buildup
    * Allow the reimbursement of all Medicare and Medicaid costs incurred by U.S.-accredited health care facilities in the Republic of the Facilities
    * Create a full fledged U.S. Veterans Affairs Office
    * Allow Guam to control its Exclusive Economic Zone

    Sunday, February 7, 2010

    Filipinos to bid in $15-B Guam US naval project

    OLONGAPO CITY — Filipino contractors will try to outbid each other for a whopping $15-billion US military naval project in Guam.

    This was bared recently by Olongapo Mayor James Gordon Jr., saying that Filipino manpower companies and suppliers are gearing to submit their bids during the Annual Pacific Island Local Government Conference which Olongapo will host from February 18 to 21 this year.

    According to APILG Executive Director Dean Alegado, more than 1,500 contractors have already signed up for the bidding process, and 50 of those are Filipino-owned companies. He said the contractors would know more about the bidding process during the conference.

    “They were mostly contractors for manpower services. Hosting this conference is a major coup for Olongapo because it can provide opportunities for Filipino contractors from all over the country to meet important decision-makers,” he said.

    “Everything is imported in Guam. For products that they don’t manufacture, maybe we can supply them,” Gordon said.

    Gordon said the US naval project is part of the planned transfer of the US naval base from Okinawa, Japan to Guam.

    “They would certainly need at least 20,000 workers just to build the naval base,” Gordon added.

    Construction of the base will commence this year up to 2014. The transfer of some 14,200 US servicemen along with their 38,070 dependents from the former base in Okinawa will start from 2012 and will be completed by 2016.

    Alegado said the biggest competitors of Filipino contractors would be American firms since the naval project in Guam will be paid for using US taxes. Biddings were earlier also conducted in Washington, Honolulu and Guam for the project.

    “But there is still a huge opportunity for Filipino contractors in other areas like medical, food and training services,” he said.

    Alegado also said the naval base project will need skilled workers, medical practitioners and the like since 20 percent of the people there are either from Olongapo or Zambales.

    The APILG conference will draw contractors from the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Republic of the Marshall Islands, Republic of Belau, the American Samoa, Hawaii, and Guam. By JONAS REYES - Manila Bulletin

    Related Article

    Filipinos to bid in $15-B Guam US naval project
    By Robert Gonzaga - Inquirer Central Luzon Desk

    OLONGAPO CITY—Filipino contractors will vie for lucrative contracts in a $15-billion US military expansion program in Guam that, this city’s mayor said, brought back memories of American military presence here.

    Organizers said Filipino manpower and product suppliers had listed up to submit bids for contracts in Guam at the Annual Pacific Island Local Government (APILG) conference that this city would host on Feb. 18-21.

    Mayor James Gordon Jr. said Filipino contractors would get to know the processes involved in bagging contracts in Guam at the APILG conference.

    Dean Alegado, executive director of the APILG conference, said over 1,500 contractors had signed up for contractual bidding processes, which were earlier conducted in Washington, Honolulu and Guam.

    “In those [bids and awards conferences], over 50 of the companies were Filipino-owned,” Alegado said.

    “They were mostly contractors for manpower services. Hosting this conference is a major coup for Olongapo because it can provide opportunities for Filipino contractors from all over the country to meet important decision-makers (in the US military program),” he said.

    It was “deja vu for all of us because this is exactly what happened when the US base began construction work here,” Gordon said.

    The US military in Guam, he said, would need “lots of services that we can provide—and also products.”

    Everything imported

    “Everything is imported in Guam. For products that they don’t manufacture, maybe we can supply them,” Gordon said.

    The Guam buildup project was spurred by the relocation there of the US naval base in Okinawa. It will require at least 20,000 workers, the Inquirer learned.

    Major engineering work is scheduled to proceed from 2010 to 2014, while 14,200 military personnel and their 38,070 dependents will be transferred to Guam from Okinawa from 2012 to 2016.

    Gordon waxed sentimental about US military presence in his city that the Philippine Senate and the eruptions of Mount Pinatubo ended in 1991.

    “In three years, my father, who was the first mayor of Olongapo, was able to turn this place into a city [because of the construction of the US naval base],” he said.

    End of treaty

    The Philippine Senate in 1991 voted overwhelmingly to reject a treaty that would have extended the stay of two key US military bases in the Philippines—the biggest US naval base outside continental America that this city had hosted and an air force base that used to be in Clark that straddled Tarlac and Pampanga.

    The eruption of Mt. Pinatubo in the same year hastened the departure of US forces from their bases in Subic and Clark when ash deposits destroyed or damaged US facilities and lahar threatened sites being used by US military forces.

    Aurelio Pineda, president of the Metro Olongapo Chamber of Commerce and Industries (MOCCI), said the conference should address “critical issues related to opportunities in Guam.”


    “We have been getting inquiries as to how Filipino companies can reach their prospective partners, or the major contractors there,” Pineda said.

    “Also, businessmen are interested about issues of labor contracting and employment, which will be tackled (in the conference),” he said.

    US firms are still the Filipino contractors’ primary competitors because the Guam project “will be paid for by US taxpayers,” Alegado said.

    “But there is still a huge opportunity for Filipino contractors in other areas like medical, food and training services,” he said.

    Alegado added: “They will need skilled workers, medical practitioners and, eventually, also entertainment workers … and Olongapo wants to take part in this. [Right now] about 20 percent of the people [in Guam] are either from here or Zambales.”

    Accredited by US Navy

    Pineda said Filipino companies that plan to operate in Guam for the buildup project have to be accredited by the US Navy.

    Workers who will be employed there will be hired by the contractors themselves, he said.

    He said the policy was adopted to protect Filipino workers from falling prey to illegal recruiters.

    Gordon said the recruitment “will be strict … because this is a military installation.”

    “Workers will be recruited from all over and the US Navy will screen them thoroughly for they might be working in sensitive areas,” he said.

    Natural advantage

    Since Filipinos have the experience in working in an American naval base, “we naturally have the advantage,” Gordon said.

    “What is happening in Guam is nothing new to us, and we might be able to transfer our learning experiences to them,” he said.

    For Olongapo, the Guam military buildup represents the “third wave of progress,” Gordon said.

    “First, when the Americans built their bases here, Olongapo became a city. Second, when they left, we were able to convert their facilities into a free port zone. Now, we are going to supply most of their skilled labor,” he said.

    The APILG conference is also expected to draw interested contractors from the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Republic of the Marshall Islands, Republic of Belau, the American Samoa, Hawaii and Guam.

    Tuesday, February 2, 2010

    Guam Buildup Delay Gains Ground

    GUAM - Bordallo’s closed-door meeting with local Senators today didn’t yield many details of President Obama’s expected visit this March.

    Although Bordallo couldn’t share much on the Obama trip, that’s not stopping Senators from pushing the issues they think the federal government must address for our island.

    For more than a year, Senators Judi Guthertz, Rory Respicio, and Speaker Judi Won Pat have been led the charge on a host of unresolved federal issues affecting Guam – inside and outside the buildup.

    They covered these concerns in a resolution presented to the President and Congress last year…aimed at clearing up land alienation, self-determination, economic disadvantage, and healthcare problems.

    Now, these same Senators want to add issues arising out of the planned military buildup – like $2.3 billion in utility upgrades and a ban on land condemnations.

    Perhaps the most important addition will be the concerns Guam residents have expressed during recent meetings on the Navy’s Draft EIS.

    According to Guthertz, she and her colleagues have pursued this agenda from the get-go and the Governor and Congresswoman are simply joining a fight certain senators started more than a year ago. With a united Guam voice, the delay in the buildup is more likely than ever.

    Guthertz is confident the new resolution will pass by the end of the week. She says, "You will see a Legislative position probably in hardened form, final form, discussed on Friday."

    Won Pat speculates that the timing of the Obama visit appears to be a “game-changing” move to gain local support. According to Won Pat, "A lot of people and world leaders and people throughout the world are enamored with the President. It will definitely woo some people in terms of giving into his requests."

    Story credit: Written by Jeff Marchesseault

    Wednesday, January 20, 2010

    Guam Braces for Military Buildup

    Four years from now, the U.S. military plans to transfer thousands of Marines from the Japanese island of Okinawa. The move is part of a larger military realignment in the region and it is one that could reshape the future of the U.S. territory.

    Residents on the Pacific island of Guam are bracing for big changes. Four years from now, the U.S. military plans to transfer thousands of Marines from the Japanese island of Okinawa. The move is part of a larger military realignment in the region and it is one that could reshape the future of the U.S. territory.

    All over Guam, the big topic of discussion is the military - and the U.S. Marines moving to the U.S. territory from the Japanese island of Okinawa.

    At a diner in central Gaum, Robert Jones says it is a good thing for the island.

    "It's going to drive the economy up and that's what we need right now, you know," he said.

    Eight thousand Marines are expected to move to Guam over the next four years. The transfer is part of the Pentagon's effort to reduce the troop numbers on Okinawa, where the U.S. has maintained bases since World War II. Most of the Marines will move to new facilities in the northern part of Guam, but Carl Petersen with the Chamber of Commerce says the effects of the buildup will extend beyond military gates.

    "Literally everybody who wants to get a job will get a job," he said.

    Petersen says the buildup will create 30,000 new jobs on the island. More than half will be temporary construction jobs mostly taken by foreign laborers. But Petersen says permanent, high-paying jobs will go to island residents. He says those jobs, combined with the business from Marines, will help improve an economy suffering from 8 percent unemployment.

    "They will become our customer which means we will have greater economy of scale. That will benefit all of us here," he said.

    Jim Espaldon is a senator in the territorial legislature and helps oversee the island's infrastructure. He says Guam is not ready for the buildup. He points to an environmental impact statement that says the buildup will attract thousands of military family members and construction workers. The population could increase by 40 percent.

    "We are not ready and we are getting no solid assistance from our federal government," he said.

    Espaldon says the population surge will overwhelm the island's only public hospital, cause gridlock on major roads and strain the only port. Container shipments there are expected to jump from 100,000 to 600,000 a year, once construction for the buildup begins.

    U.S. troops have been on the tropical island for more than a century. After World War II, and well into the 1980s, the island was seen as an outpost of the Cold War and at times more than 20,000 troops were based there. But starting in the 1990s, the Department of Defense closed bases, reduced troop numbers and shut down old facilities. Now there are about 15,000 troops and military family members on the island.

    The U.S. and Japan have pledged $10 billion to build or renovate facilities for the Marines but they have not guaranteed funds for infrastructure projects in the civilian community. Senator Judy Guthertz, who oversees the legislative committee on the buildup, says that is partly because Guam's hands are tied, politically. It does not have a vote in Congress, and Guamanians cannot vote for President.

    "Guam is U.S. territory. We fly the U.S. flag, we proudly fly the flag. We're patriotic Americans but oftentimes we're the forgotten Americans," said Guthertz.

    The military says the federal government is trying to secure money to improve the civilian infrastructure. The Defense Department has consulted the governor, the legislature, and community leaders frequently over the past several years as the plans have been drafted.

    The military already controls about a third of the island, and will need to acquire more land for the buildup, which goes beyond the Marines. The Army is building a missile defense system on the island and the Air Force is adding more drones. The Navy is expanding its port so it can accommodate visiting aircraft carriers.

    University of Guam Professor Victoria Lola Leon Guerrero says that expansion threatens the native Chamorro culture. She worries the military will take ancestral land from Chamorro families.

    "These families and their homes are not visible on these maps but they live there. That is their land. They have their homes built. They are being approached by the military as we speak, to give up their land," she said.

    The plans for the buildup are not set in stone. The military frequently reviews the plans and consults with island officials and residents about possible changes.
    And a new government in Japan may seek significant changes. Officials in Tokyo are reviewing the plans and many politicians in the governing coalition want to move even more Marines off Okinawa, something the United States says is not practical and could delay the Guam buildup. The Japanese government plans to release its recommendations for moving the Marines in May.

    Tuesday, January 19, 2010

    Guam Officials ask for more time to review DEIS


    If Japan gets more time to consider the coming military buildup, Guam deserves more time to comment, according to letters from some of the island's political leaders.

    Vice Speaker Benjamin Cruz and Delegate Madeleine Bordallo have both written letters in support of extending the amount of time residents can comment on the draft Environmental Impact Statement.

    Capt. Neil Ruggiero, local spokesman for the Joint Guam Program Office and the military buildup, did not respond to an e-mail yesterday that asked if an extension was possible.

    The draft EIS is a massive document that details how Guam will change when the coming military buildup occurs. Comments from the public may reshape the military's plans.

    On Thursday, Cruz wrote letters to Bordallo and Gov. Felix Camacho asking them to ask the military to allow the public more time to comment. The thousands of people who attended four public hearings on the buildup proves the public is concerned, he said.

    "The DEIS has raised many questions that remain unanswered. Each review of the DEIS raises more," Cruz wrote in the letter.

    Yesterday, Bordallo sent a letter to Ray Mabus, secretary of Navy, asking for a 45-day extension to the draft EIS comment period.

    "The public release of the DEIS is the first opportunity the people of Guam and our elected leaders have to see the specific plans and proposals for the military build-up on Guam," Bordallo wrote. " As you are likely aware that has already been a significant amount of interest in the DEIS and many have noted its complexity."

    The draft EIS was made public on Nov. 20, 2009. A 90-day comment window is scheduled to close on Feb. 17.

    During that time, the draft EIS has been available for public review at mayors' offices, public libraries and a dedicated room at the Agana Shopping Center.

    The document is also available online.


    Both Cruz and Bordallo mention the federal government's decision to give Japan more time to consider an international agreement about the buildup in their letters.

    According to an Associated Press article published this week, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has accepted a decision by Japanese Foreign Minister Katsuya Okada to consider relocation of the Futenma air station until May.

    The allied nations agreed to move the air base off Okinawa in 2006, but a question lingers: Where should it go?

    Although there has been no official word the base would come to Guam, if it did, thousands more military servicemen would be added to the island on top of the planned buildup.

    In their letters, Cruz and Bordallo said Japan's delay provides the perfect opportunity to give local residents more time to comment on the draft EIS.

    "The courtesy extended by the United States to the government of Japan reflects the difficult decision involved with implementing the realignment of military forces that I believe that similar considerations would benefit the DEIS on the Guam military buildup," Bordallo wrote.

    Monday, January 18, 2010

    Guam Military buildup hearing receives mixed reaction

    By Haidee V. Eugenio - Saipan Tribune Reporter

    Residents weighed the pros and cons of the $15- to $20-billion military buildup in Guam and Tinian during Friday night's public hearing on Saipan, with some individuals expressing support to the multi-year project due to economic benefits and national security issues, while others oppose the project altogether for its ill social, environmental, and cultural impacts.

    “Our economy is drying up. The local people are leaving because of lack of jobs here. We need the military, but we need to work together,” said former Rep. Manny Tenorio.

    Martin Manglona, for his part, said there's no reason to be scared about military training ranges on Tinian.

    “All plans on Tinian are for small ranges, nothing else. We have it in Kannat Tabla, so there's no problem,” said Manglona, adding that local people could get jobs and could find other business opportunities such as supplying fresh produce to the military.

    Victoria-Lola Leon Guerrero of the Guam-based We Are Guahan which is opposed to the military buildup, said the buildup intends tso carry out U.S. Department of Defense plans, and “does not intend to help residents.”

    She said that CNMI residents should never forget the environmental problems caused by the U.S. military in Tanapag, referring to the polychlorinated biphenyl contamination of soil and land crabs on Saipan's northern village.

    Leon Guerrero also urged people to visit their website,, to know more about the group's strong opposition to the buildup.

    Among other things, the group said the majority of the 18,000 jobs coming through the buildup will go to off-island workers and not local residents, and the buildup's draft Environmental Impact Statement does not mention military commitment to give Guam the money necessary to develop infrastructure to support a huge population influx.

    They were among the estimated 30 members of the community, and another 30-plus Navy personnel and military contractors at the Pedro P. Tenorio Multi-Purpose Center in Susupe on Friday night for the Joint Guam Program Office's public hearing on the buildup's draft Environmental Impact Statement.

    The number of people who showed up in both the public hearings on Tinian and Saipan were far below the numbers on Guam wherein the hearings drew 200 to 400 people.

    Delegate Gregorio Kilili C. Sablan (D-MP) said there are issues not related to the military buildup that the people of Tinian also want to be addressed, including the needed repair of the outer seawall and piers.

    “It would be great (if the military funds it) but they won't because it's not a military wharf. That has to be a Commonwealth project or funded from a separate funding because it's not a military harbor; it's commercial. And I've also been telling people that this is a military buildup in Guam. Tinian is only ancillary of the buildup and if people think that someone is going to get rich from the Tinian portion of the buildup, I would like to know how because I haven't seen it,” Sablan told Saipan Tribune.

    'No more comment period extension'

    Sixto Igisomar, speaking as a member of the public, asked for more time to review and comment on the draft environment impact statement on the military buildup.

    There are some 11,000 pages of documents on the draft EIS/Overseas Environmental Impact Statement on the military buildup.

    The draft EIS/OES can be accessed online at

    Retired Maj. Gen. David Bice, executive director of the Joint Guam Program Office, said JGPO believes that the 90-day comment period ending on Feb. 17 is sufficient.

    “We've had well over 1,600 people come out to our public hearings where they asked questions and got their questions answered by experts. We've also gotten a lot of comments online as well as during the hearings,” Bice told Saipan Tribune.

    Bice said there had been enough public outreach programs on the project, including public scoping in 2007, as well as partnership sessions with the local government and the regulators like the Environmental Protection Agency.

    “We believe that our effort has been really unprecedented because this is a pretty large realignment and we had an unprecedented approach in terms of reaching out to the public and the regulators to ensure that our document is complete,” he said.

    Bice said “every comment is important,” and every comment will be evaluated. The comments will also be recorded in Volume 10 of the final EIS.

    “I can tell you that we are going to make adjustments to the EIS. We've heard comments made by people as we go along. I would make a mental note (when I hear) a solid comment that we need to take a look at either the plan or the phraseology that's in the EIS that may not be as clear as it should have been. So I can tell you that we are going to make adjustments to the EIS based upon the comments we received,” he added.

    Townhall meetings

    Despite the end of the six public hearings held in Guam, Tinian, and Saipan, there are still opportunities for residents to know more about the draft EIS/OES.

    Tom Linden, coordinator for the CNMI Military Integration Management Committee, said MIMC, in partnership with the Office of Economic Adjustment and the Guam Advisory Consulting Team, will be hosting a public forum on Jan. 27, Wednesday, at the Multi-Purpose Center in Susupe.

    He said representatives of the OEA and ACT will break down the 11,000-page EIS and be willing to answer any questions regarding the military buildup. The public is encouraged to submit questions ahead of time to the MIMC coordinator by sending e-mails to

    MIMC, created in June 2009, serves as the planning and policy making entity for all activities related to the expansion of military training and other defense transformation initiatives in the CNMI and Guam. It is the official entity through which the CNMI will interface with the U.S. Department of the Navy, the U.S. Marine Corps, JGPO, the Department of Defense, and all other military representatives regarding the military buildup.

    The Tinian plan

    Because Guam cannot accommodate all training for the relocating Marines, the military looks at Tinian to provide opportunities for training groups of 200 Marines or larger due to greater land availability.

    Tinian is only about 100 miles or 160 kilometers away from Guam.

    The northern two-thirds of Tinian are leased to the U.S. Department of Defense. Company and battalion level non-live fire training areas already exist and are used on these lease parcels.

    “The land, however, could be developed to accommodate live fire ranges,” the draft EIS/OES stated.

    The proposed actions on Tinian include firing ranges for rifle known distance, automated combat pistol, platoon battle course, and field firing; and airspace use.

    Comments on the draft EIS/OES can be submitted online, or during the public hearings set by the U.S. Navy in Guam and the CNMI.

    Sunday, January 17, 2010

    Guam infrastructure aid coming slowly

    HAGATNA, Guam (UPI) -- Guam's governor says while he supports a U.S. military buildup on the island, needed infrastructure improvements have been slow coming.

    Gov. Felix Camacho told the military niche newspaper Stars and Stripes that Guam has had a tough time securing money for transportation, water, sewage landfill projects.

    He says the new infrastructure will be necessary if the U.S. territory is to cope with buildup plans that could temporarily bring nearly 80,000 people to the island of 178,000 people to build a new base for 8,000 Marines to be transferred from the Japanese island of Okinawa.

    "It's been very frustrating for the government," Camacho told the newspaper. "It's such a bureaucratic mess to secure funding. It's been slow to come."

    Another issue is the land needed for the base. Opponents of the plans point out some of the land the U.S. military wants has been set aside by the government for a homesteading program for native Chamorro families, Stars and Stripes said.

    Camacho told the newspaper a deal for the military to buy the land may put Guam in a better position to negotiate for money to improve its ailing infrastructure.

    Saturday, January 2, 2010

    Guam bracing for human tsunami

    When U.S. forces move in from Okinawa, population will rise 25%

    By DARIO AGNOTE - Kyodo News
    HAGATNA, Guam — Guam is bracing for a deluge.

    Thousands of American service members and their families are to relocate to the island from Japan in what could be the biggest such shift in forces since the war.

    Already concerns are being raised over the "boomtown effect" — the rapid and large spike in population and related economic activity — on Guam's limited resources and inadequate infrastructure.

    At least 8,600 marines and 630 army personnel plus their estimated 9,900 dependents are expected to move here from Okinawa. There will also be a transient military component up to 9,000-strong.

    Joining the crowd will be the thousands of outside workers needed to build new roads, deep-draft wharves, aircraft carrier berthing, barracks, houses and similar infrastructure on Guam and on Tinian off Saipan, 160 km to the northeast.

    Construction will begin next year despite funding concerns that stem from the Hatoyama administration's reluctance to share in the multimillion dollar relocation cost.

    The immediate concern is whether the Japanese government will honor the 2006 deal struck by its predecessor to chip in $6.09 billion for the relocation, which has an estimated price tag of $12 billion to $15 billion.

    The biggest concern, however, is the social cost.

    The relocation of most of the marines and their dependents is expected to start in 2014, coinciding with the peak in construction activities and expenditures.

    "At this peak, the total increase in Guam residents from off-island would be an estimated 79,178 people," says a draft environmental impact statement commissioned by the U.S. Defense Department.

    After 2014, when the infrastructure projects are completed, the population is expected to level off to an estimated 33,608 people, on top of Guam's current population of about 178,000.

    Based on the estimates of project planners, the endeavor will result in approximately $12 billion, in 2008 dollars, worth of construction occurring on Guam between 2010 and 2016.

    Although the desired completion date moving the military personnel is 2014, the construction will likely continue into 2016, the study says.

    Guam's population will increase by more than 25 percent during the four- to six-year buildup, said Paul Shintaku, executive director of the Guam Buildup Office.

    "The impacts will be wide-ranging and far-reaching. It would be every aspect of the community and our social structure," Shintaku said.

    "It's overwhelming," added Shintaku's deputy, Nora Camacho. "It can be from traffic to the hospital to our social services, schools, transport of goods coming into Guam and goods going out of Guam to Micronesia. It doesn't only affect Guam. It affects the entire Micronesia because we're a regional hub."

    People from the Philippines, the United States, Palau, the Federated States of Micronesia, the Republic of Marshall Islands and even Samoa are expected to descend on the island in search of jobs.

    "There is cause for concern over the impacts on crime and social order due to other factors," the EIS study says, adding construction booms "are typically accompanied by a sense of loosened norms and social disorder."

    People "from the Freely Associated States of Micronesia — whose numbers may increase in both the construction and operational stages due to more job opportunities — have high crime rates associated with adapting to less traditional social structures," it says. "There is a potential for more prostitution, alcohol and substance abuse, and family violence associated with young military populations in general, including sailors taking shore leave after weeks at sea.

    "The particular reputation of marines as fighters could well trigger a transitional period of adjustment in which local young men test themselves against marines in fights," it says.

    There are also concerns over the possibility that some of the workers will stay on the island for good and contribute to the "growing minoritization" of Chamorros, the indigenous people of the Mariana Islands.

    Prior to World War II, Chamorros comprised more than 90 percent of Guam's population. The percentage dropped below 50 percent by 1980 and fell to 42 percent by 2000, the study says.

    "There will be an expansion in non-Chamorro voting population that could affect the proportion of Chamorro office-holders and government workers, eventually affecting the current government budgets and activities dedicated to cultural issues and practices. It could also affect outcomes of any future votes about Guam's political status," it says.

    "The buildup is so beneficial, beyond our comprehension and beyond what you see in the past," Camacho said.

    David Leddy, president of the Guam Chamber of Commerce, says there is overwhelming support for the relocation.

    "We treat it as another industry," he said. "The local government is the biggest beneficiary in terms of revenues that can be generated from the economic activities.

    "There are positive and negative impacts. We just have to weigh the positive and negative and see what's good for the people," Leddy said.