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Pacific Islands Development Program, East-West Center

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CNMI House Adopts Extradition Resolution For Buckingham
Former AG faces multiple charges as ‘fugitive from justice’

By Emmanuel T. Erediano

SAIPAN, CNMI (Marianas Variety, Feb. 27, 2013) – The House of Representatives yesterday adopted House Joint Resolution 18-4 which asks Northern Marianas Governor Eloy S. Inos to extradite former Attorney General Edward T. Buckingham.

All 18 members present supported the joint resolution introduced by Vice Speaker Francisco S. Dela Cruz.

Speaker Joseph P. Deleon Guerrero, IR-Saipan, was absent because he was sick, so Dela Cruz presided over the House session.

Rep. Teresita A. Santos excused herself after introducing her resolution to recognize Florie Nadine Manglona Mendiola for receiving her doctorate degree in education with an emphasis in organizational leadership at Pepperdine University in Los Angeles, California.

Dela Cruz, in his resolution, listed the charges that the Office of Public Auditor filed against Buckingham who hastily left the island escorted by Department of Public Safety Deputy Commissioner Ambrosio T. Ogumoro and then-Gov. Benigno R. Fitial’s security aide, Jermaine Nekaifes to the Francisco C. Ada/Saipan International Airport on Aug. 4, 2012.

Declared by the court to be a fugitive from justice, Buckingham is facing two counts of misconduct in public office, one count of violation of CNMI election law, one count of violation of CNMI ethics law and one count of obstruction of justice.

Dela Cruz said Buckingham’s actions, "threatened the future of the NMI and the safety and security of its people."

Superior Court Judge David Wiseman issued a bench warrant for the former AG who failed to appear in court. A $50,000 bail was also set.

After he was designated last year as special prosecutor in the Buckingham case, Office of Public Auditor legal counsel George Hasselback asked former Gov. Benigno R. Fitial to extradite Buckingham.

Hasselback said that, considering the seriousness of the charges and that he occupied a significant position of public trust, "the successful prosecution of this case should be a priority."

Repatriation

The House also unanimously adopted H.J.R. 18-3, which Rep. Antonio R. Agulto authored, asking U.S. Ambassador to China Gary F. Locke to help repatriate a patient at the Commonwealth Health Center (CHC) to China.

Jing Zhi Quiang, 49, set himself on fire at the airport in Feb. of 2010 and is still at CHC. He was among the 33 illegal aliens hired by a Korean businessman who was charged by the Attorney General’s Office in Oct. of 2005.

According to CHC chief executive officer Juan N. Babauta, CHC has spent approximately $1.5 million on medical services for the patient.

CHC, Babauta said, has asked for help from the Chinese Association in the CNMI, the Chinese Consulate Office, the patient’s family and his previous employers, "but to no avail."

The CNMI’s only hospital has been taking care of Quiang for almost three years now.

According to Babauta, "Our hospital is in a critical financial situation at this time and we cannot continue to care for the patient without payment for his medical services."

He added that they had done their best, out of humanitarian concern, to keep him alive, but that now it was "time to reach out to the People’s Republic of China to care for Quiang and to return him to his family in China."

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