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Apr 8, 2009

Article 12 on the Deep 6 Soon?

Is it finally on the roll? Will it really happen?

Is Article 12 nearing its end by 2011? This discussion has long been on the table for the past years and this year a group has been aggressively pushing for its abolition. During the recent Rotary Club of Saipan meeting the coalition took the stage to talk further about the issue. Some Rotarians are also members of this group.

According to the group Article 12 has been dubbed "discriminatory" a thousand times before. Is it really?

I long wonder if abolishing Article 12 will help boost the economy at all....They say Americans on the island can finally buy properties and help with the tax system in the CNMI.

However, the issue mainly revolves around the kith and kins of Northern Marianas descents will automatically acquire or inherit the properties their parents will leave them.

Oh well, you tell me....

For more news, click here.


the teacher said...

100 MHS US history students discussed the issues surrounding our controversial land restrictions and then answered a survey, which asked whether to eliminate Article 12, leave it unchanged, or modify our land laws. Students were asked to defend their vote and list what, if any modification they suggest. They were also asked to identify their NMD percentage and whether or not they are citizens that will be eligible to vote.

45 students voted to modify the law, 38 want it eliminated altogether, and 17 want to keep it the way it is now.

The 17 defenders of Article 12 included 8 students that are NOT NMD!! Their rationale was surprisingly simple. One of the 8 non-NMD defenders said, “If Article 12 is eliminated, home prices will raise, so if house prices go up, so will rents, and if our rents become 2,000. a month like Guam and Hawaii, we will be forced to move back to PI”. Of the 9 NMD students wanting to keep Article 12, none said “this is our island” and one articulated her sentiment, “Ending Article 12 will change Saipan by making us more like Guam, and I like Saipan the way it is now”.

The 38 students voting to eliminate were comprised of 33 future voters, 29 of which are NMD. Every student described this as an economic necessity now and in the future. One 50% NMD student said, “Ending Article 12 would help many needy people, and if I can’t make a living here, I will move when I graduate”. All 6 students identifying themselves as 25% NMD, voted with this group, because barring a modification, their children could not own land. One NMD student commented, “Article 12 is a tribal mentality and communal land is generally not productive. We are Americans and one of our concerns is the large amount of non-productive land here which eliminating Article 12 may help”.

Of the 45 wanting to modify, none wanted it extended to 75 or 99 years, and their reasoning only included an expanded version of who could own land. Half suggested including all US citizens and others suggested including all people born here. One 100% NMD student stated, “we have people living in the US mainland voting here, which is ridicules, for the good of the NMI, the people born here and full-time residents, even if they are Korean, should own land and make decisions, because they are now the true Tao Tao Tano”. Most US citizens that are not NMD voted with this group.

The level of interest in and knowledge of Article 12 was remarkable. Most of the students were 16 and 17.

g00$e said...

Interesting post Teacher. Clarity of thought and coherently defended views on a very contentious issue.

Actually provides hope for the future of the CNMI.

Anonymous said...

If not already planning to, you should submit this comment as a letter to the editor or opinion article in our two newspapers, perhaps with even more student quotations.

I think these percentages are reflective of our overall population.

I seldom agree with what might be charitably called your "progressive" economic and labor relations viewpoints, but this comment of yours reads as being objective and neutral.

the teacher said...

The subject of land is sensitive, even emotional to some.

I told the students I was officially undecided and what I think is best for the CNMI may or may not be best for my family, company, or I. My reasons for or against may not agree with anyone else.

I did not tell students my main gripe against Article 12 is that the first person taking it to court after 2011 that was born here will win and if the laws change to reduce percentage of NMD for the next 2 generations, our community would be compared to South Africa for requiring 12.5 and then 6.25...a disturbing situation that would require DNA tests for title insurance...and if we ever get to that point...lawyers will own most of the land here.

The point about looking more like Guam is a strong argument though. If we follow the Marpi homesteads with tin shacks at Micro Beach or Obyan we will move too...which may delight our long lost Congress.

and noni, your characterization was quite charitable.

cactus said...

I wonder how much support there would be for an amendment that would just eliminate the "percentage" requirement (one-fourth or otherwise), making anyone eligible who is descended in any degree from the original 100% NMD group of pre-1950 NMI-domiciled TT-citizens, but otherwise make no changes.

The Actor said...

I have supported a similar idea, reducing the NMD percentage to 6-1/4 or 3-1/8% rather than your more liberal “any” percentage. Changing the blood quantum is the most pressing issue to avoid isolated inheritance injustces, which should have the lowest amount of opposition. It would also serve as a good vehicle to resolve the question of who can vote.

I am just an “idea man”, with little influence at the Legislature, so someone else will have to take up the cudgels on this one.

Anonymous said...

Forget it. It's history. If you support indigenous rights, then the indigenous must have the right to sell their land to anyone they want to. Nobody's arguing they have to sell if they don't want to.

hafa stay said...

that's the same kind of weak shit that thief dave sablan whines about years after his family stole land in susupe.

article xii is good for the people who have blood ties to the land, not for these scoundrels who want to "change" it.

what do you think they're going to do when all of the haoles get to vote on it too?

the ccart12 people are banking on it because they know that the locals will be split on the vote and the outsiders will carry it through.

carlos the mackerel said...

I'm not so sure that will work. We outsiders are split on it too.

Armchair Lawyer said...

I am a U.S.-citizen “outsider” who has lived in the CNMI 18-1/2 years and does not own a (depreciating asset) leasehold. I own no land in the mainland and my parents have passed away to their true home. The CNMI remains my own home on this earth.

I love the low rents caused by Article XII! So does my naturalized Asian spouse. We will both vote to preserve the status quo.

I also happen to agree with the reason for it -- preserving an indigenous homeland. The European countries serve as a cultural reservoir for their descendents in the U.S. But if the NMDs move to the mainland, and the languages and cultures are overrun here, how can they be preserved?

The loss of locals' right to sell to whom they please is a small price to pay for cultural survival.

It is not land per se that keeps the culture alive, of course, but keeping a critical mass together in a single community. Some place in Oregon or Idaho could serve as well. But after 4,000 years, why not the Marianas?!

the truth hurts said...

it has been argued for sometime by proponents of article 12 that culture is based in the land. that the two can not be separated.

they passionately argue that anyone that believes in abolishing or changing article 12 is attacking the chamorro and carolinian culture.

they speak of cherokee indians being driven from their lands by the white man and liken the removal of article 12 to this act.

i am always amazed by the passion and the heart that these vocal individuals impart in their pleas to their brothers and sisters. i often wonder how far we should take such passion. tom hagan makes some good points and i need not repeat them.

here are a few more of my own:

if land truly is where a culture resides and thus the removal of land from a person means the stripping of culture from that individual then why is a land sale or lease of ANY KIND to ANYONE allowed? should these passionate individuals that care so deeply for their brothers and sisters retaining their culture be just as adamantly opposed to the SALE OF ANY LAND and the loss of culture upon that sale whether it be to a Chamorro or a Japanese who meets the NMD qualifications or a Filipino person who was adopted and thus is now considered under our laws as a 100% NMD?

why in these passionate peoples minds is land sale or lease (short term loss of land) an okay process at all? in any way shape or form to anyone?

when Juan Malamanga needs money or decides to leave saipan or for any of the many reasons that may exist, decides to sell all his land to Jose Galagu has Juan now forsaken his culture?

when our government signs a 45 year lease with a foreigner for 10 Hectares of CNMI land does the foreigner obtain the chammoro and carolinian culture for 45 years?

or do they impart their culture into their newly aquired land?

should this never have been allowed?

should it be stopped now?

other than personal land use by NMDs should land that holds the culture be used for anything other than survival?

should land (culture) be used for profit? should our culture be bastardized that way?

Shouldn’t every chammoro and every carolianian hold a parcel of land? lest they be culture less?

what of the person who owns a ton of land? do they have more culture than one that owns less?

as the passionate have stated land is tied to culture and our culture is our land.

do they really believe this?

have they really looked into what they have been preaching?

did those poor cherokee LOSE their culture when they were forced off their land?

were the CHEROKEE raped of not just their land but their CULTURE and their IDENTITY too? Did at that moment CHEROKEE CULTURE CEASE TO EXIST? Did their culture not follow them on that trail of tears? did it not manifest itself in their familial and tribal practices on that ardous journey?

are the CHEROKEE people CULTURE-LESS today?

did our ancestors who left the caroline islands depart and leave their culture there?

how dare the passionate say that?
who can say that?

is juan malamanga culture-less now? he abided by article 12.

What of the landless thousands? culture-less?

how dare you call them that?

who has given someone the right to strip culture from a person dependant solely on an asset they may or may not own

when our ancestors took to the seas they carried with them, not their land, but their hearts and their minds and that is where CULTURE lies.

that is what culture it is tied to.

the individual being not the dirt.

culture is a practice. It is a heritage. it is not tangible. it is ever in flux. it is passed down through the ages not in assets accumulated assets that one day will cease to exist. It is handed down from one persons being to another persons being in actions, in words, in practices.

when the japanese or the germans or the spaniards in the past owned all the land in these beautiful islands did the chamorro and carolinian culture cease to exist?

if you are chamorro or carolinian and at present have no land in your name but love your heritage you HAVE CULTURE. They can not take it away from you.

the impassioned will preach.

the impassioned will yell.

the impassioned will accuse you of being culture-less.

it is they that have lost their chamorro and carolinian culture.

it is they that have lost their heritage.


Armchair Lawyer:

you have been here for 18 1/2 years and may not have had a depreciating asset but you have had a liability.

you speak of low rent? simple math would have allowed you to discover that even with higher property values you would have saved a ton of money purchasing a parcel of land with a home on it 19 years ago and have a nest for your retirement in the land that you now call home rather than the continual and at times escalating rental payments and the insecurity that comes with being a renter.

you said:

I also happen to agree with the reason for it -- preserving an indigenous homeland.

If all the indigenous or a great percentage of them believe this than there is no need to alienate land sales. if you fear they will sell off all of their land holdings and cause all future generations to be landless is that not their prerogative? who are you to dictate whether a culture, especially one not of your own is saved or lost? i may seem a bit harsh and that is not my intent. i just think it is time to be direct and to really think logically about what we are doing and what we have done.

the truth hurts said...

The loss of locals' right to sell to whom they please is a small price to pay for cultural survival.

It is not land per se that keeps the culture alive, of course, but keeping a critical mass together in a single community. Some place in Oregon or Idaho could serve as well. But after 4,000 years, why not the Marianas?!


sounds like you can use this logic to defend a concentration camp. and i mean that in all sincerity. give up rights to ensure cultural survival? what kind of culture are you keeping alive? a culture that embraces this mentality needs to evolve. all cultures morph and change. all things do. you must learn to adapt just as culture does.

but keeping a critical mass together in a single community.

very very unstable thinking.


step back. really and truly look at what you are saying and try once again to come to a logical solution.

Armchair Lawyer said...

I agree that this “land is essential to the preservation of culture” argument is a canard, and rejected that in my post immediately above yours.

But when I point out that culture is preserved by degrees of interconnectedness (including a common language) that are in turn promoted by propinquity, which Article XII tends to support, your only retort is “unstable thinking”?!

And then you go off on an emotional and abusive tangent about concentration camps?!!

I know lawyers like to argue by analogy, but how about using simple logic if you really want to persuade?

Will it or will it not help preserve the Chamorro and Refaluwasch cultures if we can prevent them from being marginalized and permanently dispersed hither and yon throughout the 50 states?

Just as humanity should offer a preferential option for the poor, the CNMI should offer a preferential option for NMDs, just as the other Pacific islands or states of Europe do for their people. The Covenant was not a genocide pact.

The truth may hurt to you, but for me it sets us free.

free your mind said...

If you truly believe what you are saying why then should land sales or leases of anykind in any form occur? why should anyone who owns a pracel of land be able to secure more?

explain this to me.

ask me questions i would like to be taken to task. i am spewing so much stuff. pick my brain.

but first answer my questions. if personal culture is tied to the land and we need someone to watchover us and ensure we don't lose our land and thus our culture, why are land sales to anyone, other NMDs, adopted now NMD people, etc. allowed.

why are 55 year leases allowed?

if you feel so strongly, shouldnt this practice be ended?

Armchair Lawyer said...

There is a Latin phrase in formal rhetoric that is translated to the effect, “argument to the absurd,” and essentially posits that if a moderate amount of something is good, too much would be worse, thus [falsely] “proving” that the moderate good is not so good after all.

For instance, some minimum wage opponents ask, “Why not have $50 per hour?”

I have never said culture is inextricably tied to the land, particularly in the case of specific individuals. The framers of the Covenant determined that a moderate restriction on the right of NMDs to alienate their land (it is much more restrictive in American Samoa or on a reservation) was accepable due to its salutary effect in countering the tendency toward an NMD diaspora to the mainland -- particularly since the U.S. has failed to live up to its commitment in Covenant Section 701 to help the CNMI obtain a U.S. standard of living.

I understand that Article XII is a drag on the economy, disempowers non-NMDs, contributes to unkempt properties and zoning blight.

However, this is offset by the value in preserving a homeland for the NMDs, just as Israel is for the Jews.

Not all “outsiders” oppose Article XII.

Anonymous said...

Reducing the blood quantum, or requiring only that someone be of original NMD, is a race-based allocation of rights. It is therefore unconstitutional. Repeal Article XII or watch it die a swift death in federal court.

Anonymous said...

If it was going to experience a 'quick death in federal court' wouldn't that have occurred in 1976, noni?

There are many activities that are race based and not stopped by the courts. The most obvious example being 'equal' opportunity laws which force unequal access to scarce resources.

Keep Article XII as is. Instead, throw the haole lawyers off the island. In fact, throw all the lawyers off the island. They, like a plague of locusts or unlimited supplies of opiates cause harm to the body politic.

Anonymous said...

No, the Ninth Circuit didn't invalidate it then, because it had a limited shelf life, i.e., the 2011 deadline. And you could get rid of all the haole lawyers, except for the fact that the CNMI IS PART OF THE USA. It's not "your island" any more.

Anonymous said...

Wrong. The CNMI is in 'political union' (stupidly - and against its own self interest) with the US but is not part of it. Any land the US wants here it must LEASE from the CNMI. You are not on US soil here.

Anonymous said...

Prediction: If the Chamber honchos get their way in 2011, by 2016 Tan will own 60% of the land assets on Saipan. White guy school teachers and lawyers will buy up 10%. They will buy and sell it ceaselessly as they come and go. (Ron F. Schoolteacher Hodges will finally be happy and rejoin the Chamber of Commerce). Another 10% will be retained/traded among the few remaining moneyed local NMDs. The other 20% will be Ricky Delgado's turf.

The key, of course, is to get the courts to rule that all the non-NMD's can vote the issue come 2011 in contravention to the Constitution.

free your mind said...

to anonymous person a couple posts back:

do you state things with such force and hope that people believe your lies? or do you simply not have enough sense to learn about these islands and are true political make up before spouting off?

you said:
"The CNMI is in 'political union' (stupidly - and against its own self interest) with the US but is not part of it. Any land the US wants here it must LEASE from the CNMI. You are not on US soil here."

Here is some clarity (bold sections for your assistance)

Section 806.

(a) The United States will continue to recognize and respect the scarcity and special importance of land in the Northern Mariana Islands. If the United States must acquire any interest in real property not transferred to it under this Covenant, it will follow the policy of seeking to acquire only the minimum area necessary to accomplish the public purpose for which the real property is required, of seeking only the minimum interest in real property necessary to support such public purpose, acquiring title only if the public purpose cannot be accomplished if a lesser interest is obtained, and of seeking first to satisfy its requirement by acquiring an interest in public rather than private real property.

(b) The United States may, upon prior written notice to the Government of the Northern Mariana Islands, acquire for public purposes in accordance with federal laws and procedures any interest in real property in the Northern Mariana Islands by purchase, lease, exchange, gift or otherwise under such terms and conditions as may be negotiated by the parties. The United States will in all cases attempt to acquire any interest in real property for public purposes by voluntary means under this Subsection before exercising the power of eminent domain. No interest in real property will be acquired unless duly authorized by the Congress of the United States and appropriations are available therefor.

(c) In the event it is not possible for the United States to obtain an interest in real property for public purposes by voluntary means, it may exercise within the Commonwealth the power of eminent domain to the same extent and in the same manner as it has and can exercise the power of eminent domain in a State of the Union. The power of eminent domain will be exercised within the Commonwealth only to the extent necessary and in compliance with applicable United States laws, and with full recognition of the due process required by the United States Constitution.

the truth hurts said...

and to the anonymous above that thinks tan and delgado and hodges will own the cnmi if they could buy it:

is that any different from the tenorio family owning 13%, the guerrero family owning 12%, the sablan family owning 18%, 4 other rich families combined owning 15%, the government holding or leasing 30% leaving only the remaining 12% of Saipan land to be divided up among the large amount of remaining NMDs?

there are 4000+ people on the homestead wait list that are without land in the CNMI and thousands more that have opted not even to sign up though they have no land.

drop article xii. if you really believed in preserving the cultural land practices than sales of any type or long term leases would be outright banned all together and all land would be EQUALLY distributed among all NMDs without any problem.

so is this really about ensuring that each NMD have a piece of land and thus retains he/her culture? or is it about a select few NMDs taking advantage of their brothers and sisters under the guise of cultural protection.

what tenorio has done is no different than what a tan would do. the end result is the same a person sells their land to tenorio or tan and they lose it. the only difference is that tenorio stole it for $.05 a square meter and tan would have paid $3/square meter.

lucky tenorio... no wonder why they want article xii to stay in place. still at least 18% of land they haven't amassed yet at pennies on the dollar.

Anonymous said...

As stated the "connected families own all of the land and have bought it up from the "non-connected"
When article XII comes up for vote these families and others that have bought up the land, will vote to repeal the act. I have many friend that have bought up much land, "cheap" over the years, especcially during election times.
These families are counting on reselling the land to "outsiders" when the repeal comes and making millions.

Also it has already come to the Supreme court on a case similar to "NMD only" vote on article XII. I think it was Rice vs Cayetano (or Rice vs State of Hawaii, cannot remember)
There cannot be any "racial segregation" on voting by limiting to certain nationalities.
So whoever is eligable to vote will be able to vote on the Article XII issue, this will include the contract workers children who become of age.
More and more these contract workers children will have a say in the polical figure on the island. Soon many will run for elected Govt.(not unlike Fiji and the former contract Indians)
The only thing will be the Homstead lands (like Hawaii)will remain NMD but will have to change "blood" percent. Now Hawaii last year reduced to 1/64 blood to retain the land to the spouswes and offspring. Next will be probably 0% as many homstead are still being lost as many spouse have no blood line and ones that had children, the children have passed on.

the teacher said...

I don't know how I figured into the discussion with affluent people buying land cheap as I pay a monthly mortgage on my leased home.

Anonymous said...

Article 12 is NOT based on genetics. So stop using that "blood quantum" crap. A thai orhpan adopted by a 100% NMD becomes a 100% NMD. No blood involved in that transaction.

Anonymous said...

Article 12 is racist and has nothing to do with culture. There is no arguement that can hide that.

Anonymous said...

It may be a discriminatory law but not inherently racist.

It doesn't guarantee a culture will turn out a certain way.

I can still respect the law but i can't respect people who use it to defend their own bigotry.

Anonymous said...

I want article 12 to be repealed so Saipan can become Saitan. So many economist, scientist, theologist it's amazing that these guys can't find the right formula to get us out of this economic turmoil.

GUAM GUY said...

CNMI people are not intelligent, mature, responsible enough to know what to do with their own Land.

On Guam we know that we can put any restrictions we want on a deed to address any concerns about giving to the kids.. selling, not selling, leasing, anything at all.

Guam and the rest of the USA enjoy this right and freedom.... CNMI is not ready and SHOULDN'T.

Michael Dilley said...

Wow, a lot of these comments are valid for bot sides of the argument. I would love to see the economy prosper again, however not at the los of lands for penny's on the dollar like is happening now nor would i like to see nmd's homeless or renting land, but the facts of time are the facts and even now you see those things already happening thanks to poker rooms, drinking, and emergency issues with families. We are each our own individuals with our own minds and free to make our own choices based on the facts we have at the time we need to make those decisions, and sometimes life is just not fair but it is what it is. I call this Island my Home and I will retire, and ultimately die here, these are my family (maybe not from birth) but from long standing relationships in which we have cried and laughed together, helped each other and tried our best to make the daily life we live better for each other no matter the situations. I do believe both nmd's and us citizens are both born as USA citizens with that ever powerful blue passport that entitles us to the same inalienable freedoms, rights and protection from discrimination, no matter the source, and ultimately all the rights which our constitution demands for its people of the people. So in saying that, when i read the news paper that the current governor wants to allow the selling of public lands to specific entities such as hotels, I have to ask myself how does that violate article 12 and as DPL lands are true ancestral lands of the NMD's more than privately owned land, I would assume their should be some pretty pissed off NMD's right about now. I know if the gov. tries to pull this off and it passes this law, then to me article 12 is dead! because if the government can do it to make a fast buck with such coveted lands, then for any private citizen owning private land, should be able to do it in order to not get $.05 on the dollar period! as it stands currently because their is no set land value, the banks, CDA, and other institutions wont even give you a loan, what type of message is this sending out. all I can say is I love this island with every bit of my fiber and all i want to see is everyone able to live life to the fullest and be able to put food on the table for their families, so i really don't care how that actually happens i just hope it happens soon before theirs no body left.

OK Guam Guy, that's not nice, you can not punish the people for something that was done in 1976 when it was a good idea. After all it takes like $100,000+ just to buy a piece of junk 1 bedroom house in Guam, I understand your heart ach, lol but don't take it out on us here in the CNMI, we will find our way when its our time to do so.

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