Benjamin Taisacan Manglona, the first Rotanese lieutenant governor of the CNMI, died yesterday. He was 78.
Manglona was considered to be the CNMI’s longest serving elected official with his political career spanning over 40 years. He was first voted to serve in the 1963 Marianas District Legislature where he served until 1965.
Gov. Ralph DLG Torres, in a statement issued yesterday, said he along with First Lady Diann Torres and Lt. Gov. Victor Hocog join the CNMI in mourning the passing of one of the Commonwealth’s founding fathers.
“Diann, Lt. Gov. Hocog, and I extend our condolences to the family of the late Benjamin Taisacan Manglona, who passed away today. A native son of Rota, Manglona was instrumental in the development of the founding of our political status as a member of the Marianas Political Status Commission, which helped in drafting the Covenant,” said Torres.
From the Marianas District Legislature, Manglona was elected as a Congress of Micronesia representative until 1970 with the Northern Mariana Islands still being administered by the U.S. under the Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands.
In 1972, he was part of the 13-member Marianas Political Status Commission—the body that negotiated the CNMI’s political status with the U.S. Federal Government—representing the island of Rota.
After then-U.S. President Gerald Ford signed Public Law 94-241 that established the CNMI in 1976, Manglona helped draft the CNMI Constitution serving as vice president in the same year. He was elected to the first CNMI Legislature in 1976 as Rota senator and even became Senate president at a latter term.
He did not seek re-election in 1989 and instead joined the gubernatorial ticket of Lorenzo I. Deleon Guerrero. The Deleon Guerrero-Manglona tandem won the election and was sworn into office in 1990. They served for only one term and in 1998 Manglona was elected the mayor of Rota and served until 2006.
“As [Rota] Mayor, he had a love unparalleled for his home that radiated through his service to the community, and he was never hesitant to welcome visitors and show them the great hospitality it was known for,” said Torres.
Aside from leaving his family, Torres added that Manglona also left a legacy that would continue to inspire and guide the CNMI. “Our islands are truly a better place now because of his selflessness and leadership.”
The CNMI House of Representatives, in March 2011, adopted House Resolution 17-45—authored by then- Rota representative Teresita A. Santos—honoring Manglona’s significant contribution to the Commonwealth as a public servant.
The CNMI Senate, in April 2011, passed a bill renaming the Rota International Airport as Benjamin Taisacan Manglona International Airport. Then-governor Benigno R. Fitial signed the bill later that year.