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Pacific Islands Development Program, East-West Center

With Support From Center for Pacific Islands Studies, University of Hawai‘i

New Governor: CNMI Survived ‘Significant Constitutional Test’
Inos congratulates Commonwealth for ‘political maturity’

By Emmanuel T. Erediano

SAIPAN, CNMI (Marianas Variety, Feb. 25, 2013) – Governor Eloy S. Inos congratulates the people of the CNMI for surviving a significant constitutional test.

"During the recent past, we came close to a an unprecedented constitutional crisis, but we survived it. We have reached a level of political maturity," Inos said following the election of the new Senate leadership on Friday.

Inos congratulated new Senate President Ralph DLG Torres, R-Saipan; Senate Vice President Victor B. Hocog, R-Rota; and Senate Floor Leader Ray N. Yumul, IR-Saipan.

Inos also congratulated the NMI people for successfully upholding the mandate of their Constitution.

"It has been 35 years since we achieved our commonwealth’s political status and we have come through many constitutional tests, but we have survived," he said.

"I think we have shown the general public and the world as well that we can handle our own business and run our government."

In an interview after the Senate session, Inos noted that the impeachment process is provided for in the CNMI Constitution, but it was the first time that it has occurred "so it basically put the islands’ political maturity to a test."

"We have reached a point of political maturity were we basically can govern ourselves. We have survived," Inos said.

The people of the CNMI, he added, were able to push for a sudden change in the administration.

He said the authors of the CNMI Constitution would be proud to know that its provisions have been tested and have worked.

U.S. Congressman Gregorio Kilili Camacho Sablan agreed.

The CNMI Constitution, he said, states that it is the duty of the Legislature to keep in check the authority of the chief executive.

"We saw that in this instance," he said, referring to the impeachment of then-Gov. Benigno R. Fitial who resigned on Wednesday, some two weeks before his trial in the Senate.

Sablan said 16 responsible House members successfully used a constitutional process in a situation where the chief executive "has run amuck."

"I agree with the new governor — our people have matured politically," he said.

After surviving this political crisis, Sablan said "we are now moving forward and picking up the pieces for a much better commonwealth."

What happened over the last few days, Sablan said, has set a high standard for public officials, elected or appointed.

Businessman Juan "Santiago" Tenorio said the CNMI people have learned the hard way.

Over the last 10 years, he added, the economy has been sinking, and the priority now should be its revitalization.

"I think we are now headed in the right direction and I hope investors will look into the situation with confidence now," he said. The issues that came out during the impeachment, he added, have affected the business community.

Investors were not sure if there would be a stable government, he said.

Now that there is a new administration, Tenorio said, "confidence in the NMI is back."

"I have 100 percent confidence in Governor Inos, Lt. Gov. Jude Hofschneider, Senate President Ralp Torres and Speaker Joseph Deleon Guerrero.

Senate Floor Leader Ray N. Yumul said the recent events have shown that "we take dearly to our hearts the essence of the Covenant, of the Constitution and of our laws."

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