protest infront of the governor's office

protest infront of the governor's office






Group holds rally, dares Fitial to talk to them
By Agnes E. DonatoReporter

The community group Taotao Tano held a rally outside the administration building yesterday to demand the resignation of Gov. Benigno R. Fitial and all of his appointees.About 15 Taotao Tano members, their children in tow, stood for four hours in front of the Governor's Office, shouting calls for the governor to step down, or at least to come out and speak to them. Fitial and his police escorts reportedly left the building through the back door without addressing the small crowd.“It's very disappointing he had to get four police officers to escort him. We are not a radical group; we even came with kids. We just wanted to talk to him about the CUC [Commonwealth Utilities Corp.] contracts,” said Taotao Tano leader Gregorio Cruz.Taotao Tano has questioned CUC's $5.1 million contract with the Guam-based DCM Group for the repair of Saipan's Power Plant I, and the $885,000 contract with the Commonwealth Industrial Supply Co. Inc. for the repair of Power Plant II. Both companies have failed to complete their work on schedule. The continuing repair at the power plants has prompted CUC to hire the U.K.-based Aggreko International to provide temporary power to Saipan at a cost of $6 million.“Where is the rehabilitation that was supposed to take place? What is the administration going to do with those contracts? Are we going to continue spending money to repair something that should have fixed already?” Cruz asked.“If these officials can't do their job, they don't belong in office. They should step down,” he added.The Saipan Tribune tried to get comments from CUC executive director Tony Muna, but he has not responded at press time. Muna has called the DCM contract “a mistake.” He has also reported that CISCO's work, which was supposed to have been completed in 2006, has been put on hold.It is not clear what CUC's next step will be on DCM or CISCO.Press secretary Charles P. Reyes Jr. Reyes said he knew little about the March 2006 contract with CISCO, which had been given 120 days to fix Power Plant II. But he played down the contractors' faults.“Maybe the engines are in a worse state than they expected. Those engines had been neglected for many years. Unfortunately, the mistakes of the past are coming back to haunt us. We're just trying to deal with the bad circumstances,” he said.Reyes also called Taotao Tano's rally “a publicity stunt.”“They're exercising their right to free speech. That's all right as long as they do it peacefully and they are not disturbing the peace,” he said.



Reyes: Governor’s office not affected by protest Tuesday, 08 July 2008 00:00 By Junhan B. Todeno - Variety News Staff

THE leader of Taotao Tano does not “represent the indigenous people” and his protest action that demanded the resignation of Gov. Benigno R. Fitial is “unreasonable,” Press Secretary Charles P. Reyes Jr. said yesterday. A Taotao Tano member holds a placard critical of the administration during their rally outside the governor’s office yesterday. Photo by Mark Pe├▒arandaThe Office of the Governor is “not affected” by the rally spearheaded by Greg Cruz. “We will continue to work,” Reyes said, adding that they have no time to have a dialogue with Cruz. “We talked with him before and we gave him an opportunity to be heard,” Reyes said. “But he has become critical and unreasonable,” he added, when the Fitial administration did not give him a government job. Cruz, in a separate interview, said Reyes should stop acting “as if he is the governor — he only wants a show on island.” Reyes should prove that Taotao Tano does not represent the indigenous people of the CNMI, Cruz said. Their call for Fitial’s resignation is reasonable, he added, and Taotao Tano will continue its protest “until something happens.” Cruz and his group gathered outside the governor’s office on Capital Hill at 1:30 p.m. yesterday. The rally was supposed to start at 10 a.m. Cruz was with eight children, 12 teenagers and seven other adults. The group displayed their banner which stated: “We are all suffering. Fuel is a global issue but ismanagement, incompetence, sweetheart deals, under the table deals is not. If you guys cannot fix CUC step down.” They chanted protest slogans from time to time. The Reyes sisters — Tacia, 16, Estela, 19, and Angie, 18 — said their demand was reasonable “because we have suffered a lot.” Christopher Ayuyu, 33, who has been with Taotao Tano for a year now, said people are paying CUC’s debt and the price of fuel is more than the minimum wage. Aaron Arthur, 15, said the governor is not addressing the pressing problems of the islands. Another local group, the CNMI Descents for Self-Government and Indigenous Rights does not support Taotao Tano’s cause. Former Speaker Oscar C. Rasa, spokesman and adviser of the CNMI Descents, said they are only concerned about issues affecting the rights of the indigenous people. “We are not involved in one way or another with the demand for Fitial’s resignation,” Rasa told Variety, adding that their group now has 2,300 members. Reyes said Cruz enjoyed the support of the local people, but most of them have formed their own groups. “He is inconsistent,” Reyes said. “He might be supporting you in one day and next week attacking you — completely npredictable.” Taotao Tano’s demand for a complete revamp of the cabinet members is also unreasonable because some of those officials are performing well and have nothing to do with Cruz’s problems, Reyes said. Department of Public Safety Commissioner Clyde Norita and Department of Lands and Natural Resources Secretary Dr. Ignacio Dela Cruz are doing well, Reyes said. CUC Executive Director Antonio Muna, he added, is trying to address a difficult situation. Reyes believes that Cruz is being fed information by some politicians or groups that want to express their sentiments but don’t want to be identified. “He is not a very knowledgeable person but sometime when you look at his press releases it sound like it came from somebody who is knowledgeable,” Reyes said. “I have seen his writing and he often has grammatical errors. He’s not a good writer.” Cruz said politicians do not support their group because “they are afraid of us.” He again challenged Reyes to prove that he applied for a job with the Fitial administration.



OUR CNMI LEADERS activities and accomplishments

Introductory, pending and passage of house bills

Monday, April 13, 2009

04-13-09 Candidates say no to ‘dirty politics’

Candidates say no to ‘dirty politics’
Tuesday, 14 April 2009 00:00 By Gemma Q. Casas - Variety News Staff
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MORE than a dozen billboards and other campaign materials of the Independent gubernatorial team of former Sen. Juan T. Guerrero and running mate House Floor Leader Joseph N. Camacho were vandalized, prompting them to join the other teams’ campaign against “dirty politics.”

“We say no to dirty politics,” Guerrero told the Variety in a phone interview yesterday upon learning that their billboard near the 99 Cents Supermarket in Garapan was torn in half.

“We should respect the law,” he said.

The two GOP gubernatorial hopefuls — Rep. Heinz S. Hofschneider and running mate Speaker Arnold I. Palacios, and the ticket of former Gov. Juan N. Babauta and Board of Education member Galvin S. Deleon Guerrero —learned on Saturday that their campaign billboards in different locations near the Saipan airport and Garapan were vandalized.

The two camps, in separate statements, called on the public to support a clean and honest election campaign.

Former Senator Guerrero said vandalism isn’t limited to the GOP candidates’ campaign materials.

So far, he said, their team has lost at least 12 billboards due to vandalism.

“It is costing us a lot of money,” he said and noted that a 4x4 billboard costs around $75 a piece if printed locally.

The former lawmaker said they are going to meet with the GOP officials to address the issue of vandalism.

“We want to sit down and have a dialogue with them on this issue,” he said.


Friday, March 21, 2008

Letter to the Editor: To Rep.Ray Yumul


THE conversion of the Legislative Bureau employees employment to civil service status is a noble cause especially in these economic times and uncertainties. We hope that the same noble cause can be extended to all other government and autonomous government employees across the board for no one has to live in fear daily of losing a job, especially with a situation not of their creation. A vast majority of our government employees, whether they are on contract or permanent status, have families and obligations to fulfill daily and monthly.

This is a critical and sensitive issue warranting a priority in consideration for all other government and autonomous employees and it must be taken into account before anyone is released from a job.

We believe that the clause in an employment contract stating that an employee can be terminated with or without cause by an employer, is not only barbaric, but unjust and oppressive and should be removed or stricken out from pre-employment contracts and existing employment contracts.

Again, we stress that an employee’s livelihood should be given due consideration and taken into account, especially if he or she is the HEAD of household.

Therefore, we humbly request that the 16th Legislature, both the House of Representatives and Senate, give full consideration into this matter and grant such consideration across the board for it is only FAIR, JUST and it’s the right thing to do.

“Parehu ha hita todus TAOTAO TANO, Patte parehu mo’na sa taya diferensia kontra otro.”

Taotao Tano

Sunday, February 10, 2008


SENATE President Pete P. Reyes has announced the composition of the Senate’s nine committees, giving chairmanships to each of the other senators — with the exception of Joseph M. Mendiola and Luis P. Crisostimo.

Senate Vice President Felix T. Mendiola, Covenant-Rota, will chair Rules and Procedures, and Federal Relations and Independent Agencies.
Sens. Paterno S. Hocog, Paul A. Manglona and Jude U. Hofschneider will also chair two committees.
Manglona, R-Rota, heads Health, Education and Welfare Programs as well as Public Utilities, Transportation and Communications.
Hocog, R-Rota, chairs Executive Appointments and Government Investigation which was formerly chaired by Sen. Henry H. San Nicolas, Covenant-Tinian.
San Nicolas will remain a committee member.
Hocog will also chair Judiciary, Government and Law.
Hofschneider, R-Tinian and the new floor leader, will chair Youth Affairs as well as Resources, Economic Development and Programs.
Sen. Maria T. Pangelinan, D-Saipan, heads Fiscal Affairs.
Crisostimo, D-Saipan, who used to be the chairman of PUTC, was named vice chairman of two committees.
Joseph M. Mendiola, Covenant-Tinian and the former Senate president, will be the vice chairman of Fiscal Affairs.

Monday, February 4, 2008

welcome aboard!

Senate, House still deadlocked over LB director

Tuesday February 5, 2008

THE two houses of the Legislature have yet to agree on who to appoint as the new Legislative Bureau director.

The Republican-led House of Representatives wants Ed Tenorio, a former special assistant for management and budget, to replace Jack Omar as LB director.

Sen. Maria T. Pangelinan, D-Saipan, said the Senate leadership wants LB deputy director Glenna Palacios-Reyes for the job which draws an annual salary of $70,000 to $80,000.

A long-time legislative staffer, Palacios-Reyes is the wife of Senate President Pete P. Reyes, Ind.-Saipan.

Section 17 of the CNMI Constitution stated that the LB director “shall be appointed by the joint House and Senate majorities, and shall be free from political harassment and pressure.”

Pangelinan said the Senate majority believes that since Palacios-Reyes is the deputy director she should succeed Omar.

Reyes, in a separate interview said, said due to his relationship to Palacios-Reyes, he is keeping his hands off the matter.

The Senate has designated Pangelinan as its negotiator with the House.

Finance announces personal exemption verification program

mv - Tuesday February 5, 2008

AS part of the commonwealth’s tax enforcement effort, the Department of Finance is implementing a personal exemption verification program, a media release said.

The focus of this program will be to require individuals who are claiming an unusually high number of exemptions to justify these exemptions. Taxpayers found to be in violation of regulations are subject to fines and/or penalties.

The Department of Finance would like to remind all employees of the requirement to file a new withholding exemption certificate, Form W-4, should a change in status occur which results in an employee being entitled to less withholding exemptions than previously claimed.

Specifically, Northern Marianas Territorial Income Tax §3402(f)(2)(B) and NMTIT Reg. §31.3402(f)(2)-1(b) requires that the employee furnish the employer a new withholding certificate within 10 days of the change.

Below is a list of examples of a change in status in which an employee must file a new withholding certificate. You should contact your tax advisor for assistance.

(a) death of a spouse or dependent;

(b) the employee is divorced or legally separated from his/her spouse for whom an exemption was claimed;

(c) the employee claims his/her own withholding exemption on a separate certificate from the spouse;

(d) dependent (except a child who is a student or is under 19 years of age) for whom an exemption was claimed begins to receive income in excess of gross income limit for the immediate previous tax year, but is expected to have income exceeding the gross income limit in the current tax year;

(e) you or your spouse stop working a second job;

(f) when the support of a dependent for whom the employee claimed exemption is taken over by someone else, so that the employee no longer expects to furnish more than half the support for the year;

(g) should there be an increase in income that is not subject to withholding such as interest income, dividend income, capital gains, self-employment income or IRA distribution.

Willful failure to supply information required by NMTIT §3402 that would require an increase in NMTIT §3402 withholdings, or willful furnishing of false or fraudulent information, is punishable by a fine of up to $1,000, or up to one year of imprisonment or both. This penalty is in addition to any other penalty. NMTIT §7205(a).

As part of the new withholding verification program, the Division of Revenue and Taxation will initiate a review of withholding exemption certificate and would impose the applicable penalty on those found willfully furnishing false or fraudulent information. Employers are urged to review their payroll records to ensure that the withholding taxes for NMTIT comply with the exemptions claimed on their employees’ W-4 forms.

Inos: Proposed budget doesn’t fund 3 items

Tuesday February 5, 2008 By Moneth G. Deposa Variety News Staff

Finance Secretary Eloy Inos appears perplexed by the question posed by Rep. Diego T. Benavente, back turned to the camera, during the House budget hearing, Friday, on Capital Hill. Photo by Mark Pe├▒aranda

FINANCE Secretary Eloy Inos on Friday said the administration’s proposed $160.1 million budget for fiscal year 2008 does not fund three items amounting to $12 million.

These are the $3 million projected shortfall in the government’s health insurance program after the amount of claims exceeded the premiums; the 7 percent difference in the government’s employer contribution to the Retirement Fund; and $7 million for government holidays.

The administration proposed an 11 percent Retirement Fund contribution, but lawmakers approved an 18 percent rate. The governor signed the bill “with serious reservations.”

The administration also asked lawmakers to pass a bill suspending the government’s holiday pay.

During Friday’s budget hearing conducted by the House Ways and Means Committee, Inos said lawmakers should be aware of the “financial impact” of having a budget that does not fund certain areas.

This, he said, will bring “chaos” to the CNMI.

“The current issue on the table now is with respect to runoff claims from the old health insurance program where the amount of claims exceeded the premiums,” Inos said. “This is one important area that was not considered in the $160.1 million proposed budget.”

He said the budget they submitted was based on an actuarial study indicating that the government can only afford a Retirement Fund contribution rate of 11 percent.

“Now that we will be required to pay 18 percent, we’ve got to have a source of funds to be able to do it,” Inos said.

The funding for the 14 holidays of the commonwealth — $7 million — is also a concern, he added.

“We anticipated the passage of the non-holiday legislation, which did not happen, so if we continue this current situation, we’re going over the cliff,” Inos said.

New law tightens definition of "loitering"

120107 st- Local Saturday, December 01, 2007 By Agnes E. DonatoReporter


Gov. Benigno R. Fitial has approved a bill strengthening the law against streetside solicitation of customers in the Commonwealth.The newly enacted law provides a clearer definition of acts of loitering.Under the legislation, attempting more than one time to lure a customer into a commercial transaction, whether legal or illegal, through shouting, calling, or beckoning, is prohibited.Also banned is grabbing or touching of potential customers for commercial gain.A person convicted of loitering may be fined up to $1,000 or sentenced to up to 30 days in prison.Public Law 15-113 was enacted in a bid to clarify two previous statutes against loitering. The Legislature said that P.L. 14-50 and P.L. 14-93 had been ineffective in curbing the aggressive street-side solicitation of tourists and other people in the CNMI.The governor noted the previous laws required that there be “repeated” attempts or acts of loitering, but failed to define “repeated.”“This measure clarifies the language, which in turn will assist law enforcement officers when determining if a person is loitering or attempting to loiter for commercial gain,” Fitial said.