Saturday, February 27, 2010

"Only the Beginning"

News of last week's hearing was on the front page of the Saipan Tribune five days in a row. I'm guessing we'll get bumped by the tsunami story. This is our press release for Monday:
February 28, 2009

Saipan, Northern Mariana Islands
– The Friends of the Mariana Trench Monument are urging Northern Mariana Residents to continue expressing their support for building a Mariana Trench Visitors Center and Headquarters in the CNMI.

“Your voice is being heard in the halls of the United States Congress,” said Friends of the Monument’s Vice Chair Agnes McPhetres, “but this fight is far from over and this is only the beginning.”

The Friends are campaigning for a visitors center and headquarters to be built in the CNMI and have waged a letter writing campaign urging the Subcommittee on Insular Affairs, Oceans, and Wildlife to support Representative Gregorio Camacho “Kilili” Sablan’s H.R. 3511, the “Marianas Trench Marine National Monument Visitor Facility Authorization Act of 2009.”

Representative Madeleine Bordallo of Guam introduced a competing bill, H.R. 4493, that would build a visitors center and other infrastructure on Guam, not CNMI. The Friends of the Monument are opposed to Bordallo’s bill.

McPhetres traveled to Washington, DC last week to deliver the Friends of the Monument’s testimony and to testify on behalf of the 6000 CNMI residents who signed petitions in support of creating a monument. McPhetres’ testimony asked the Subcommittee to “do the right thing” and “place the headquarters for the Mariana Trench Marine National Monument in the CNMI.”

During the hearing Representative Gregorio Camacho “Kilili” Sablan entered into the official congressional record over 150 letters, emails, and comments in support of H.R. 3511, many written by supporters and members of the Friends of the Monument.

“We are grateful to all the residents who are helping us bring the headquarters to CNMI,” said Friends’ Director Angelo Villagomez. “It was the support of our people that resulted in the creation of the monument and they are deserving of the social, economic, and environmental benefits promised by the Government of the United States.”

Residents can submit testimony in support of Kilili’s H.R. 3511 up until this Friday, March 5, 2009. Letters should be addressed to Representative Bordallo and copies of all letters should be sent to Representative Sablan. The Friends of the Monument are offering assistance in writing letters and can be reached at and

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