Guam Senator Respicio kicks off what promises to be a lively session of the Association of Pacific Island Legislatures in Pohnpei
The Guam Legislature’s Majority Leader, Senator Rory J. Respicio delivered opening remarks at the four day General Assembly meeting of the Association of Pacific Island Legislatures, promising delegates that the gathering will pay particular attention to the state of relations between Washington, D.C. and their island governments.
Respicio said the meeting agenda includes discussions of the legal relationship with the U.S., which demonstrates how issues that may directly involve some of our island communities are nevertheless a concern to ALL of us within our region.
“As you know, a longstanding bone of contention we have had with the U.S. government is the continuing failure of federal policy to fully meet U.S. obligations under the FAS compacts with respect to their impact on the cost of public services on Guam.”
Senator Respicio also provided an update on Guam Speaker Judi Won Pat’s continuing push for regional health care insurance that will cover citizens of the FSM, Palau and the Marshalls when traveling to, or living in Guam, Hawaii, and the rest of the United States. The APIL meeting will hear presentations in support of this initiative.
Respicio cited the recent opening of the Guam Regional Medical City, progress on moving forward with the Guam military buildup and stronger Guam tourism numbers as developments that have positive impacts on the entire APIL region.
Some further good news for the region is a pair of new laws recently approved that authorize the participation of FAS citizens in the civilian police reserves of the Guam Police Department and make FAS citizens on Guam eligible for scholarships for higher education.
Senator Respicio also reported progress on next year’s Festival of the Pacific Arts, which he described as “the cultural Olympics of the Pacific.” According to Monica Okada Guzman, Chairperson of the Guam Council of Arts & Humanities, all the countries involved have formally agreed to participate in the 2016 event on Guam.
“With the spirit of Pacific Islander solidarity and fellowship working for us, we are confident that next year’s FESTPAC will be a success as will this year’s General Assembly of APIL,” Senator Respicio told the delegates.
The Delegation from Guam consists of co-APIL delegate Sen. Jimmy Espaldon, Past APIL President, President of AYUDA Foundation and Senator Carlotta Leon Guerrero, Sarah Thomas Nededog, who is the Vice President of WestCare Pacific Islands and Secretariat to PAYUTA which is a Guam umbrella organization of NGO's, Theresa Arriola, Chairperson, of PAYUTA as well as Guam Visitors Bureau's Board Secretary and Chairperson of GVB's Cultural Committee & North America/Pacific Marketing Committee, and presenters Attorneys Julian Aguon and Julie Hunter.