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House panel to help Veterans Affairs address cemetery issues

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THE House Committee on Federal and Foreign Affairs will assist the CNMI Military and Veterans Affairs Office in addressing the issues facing the veterans cemetery in Marpi, the committee chairman, Rep. Luis John Castro, said.

Last week, he met with Military and Veterans Affairs Office Executive Director Stanley Iakopo to discuss how to protect the final resting place of veterans from any form of desecration.

Castro said he commends Iakopo for taking the initial steps in securing the cemetery by installing a temporary fence that will prevent cows from entering the veterans cemetery and the adjacent public cemetery.

 The veterans cemetery in Marpi. Photo by Emmanuel T. Erediano

Castro also noted that it is the Department of Public Lands that issues permits to ranchers.

“The military and veterans affairs executive director is doing his job. However, he is getting into issues with some ranchers so he asked us to assist in regards to that. Right now, it is still an ongoing discussion and the committee plans to reach out to DPL as well as the ranchers who have grazing property in Marpi,” Castro said, adding that enforcement of DPL rules is the issue.

“It is a touchy issue not just because it is a cemetery, but because it is a veterans cemetery. A lot of people go there to pay respect to their loved ones who served our nation.”

Castro said his committee will invite DPL officials in its next meeting.

“I want to make sure that our veterans’ final resting place is honored appropriately. The grazers can assist by being more responsible in raising their livestock,” he added.

 

November 2020 pssnewsletter

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