Borja is new Senate president

Senate honors Inos with resolution
Francisco Borja

Francisco Borja

Following then-Senate president Victor Hocog’s immediate ascension to the post of CNMI lieutenant governor last week, the Senate reorganized yesterday to elect Senate vice president Francisco Borja (Ind-Tinian) as president, floor leader Arnold Palacios (R-Saipan) as vice president, and Sen. Steve Mesngon (R-Rota) as floor leader.

All seven members unanimously voted yesterday to elect the new officers. Sen. Teresita Santos (R-Rota), who was excused yesterday, was elected secretary.

During public comments, Hocog extended the Torres administration’s warm congratulations to the new officers, saying they would “work together,” moving forward.

Tinian Mayor Joey Patrick San Nicolas also attested to Borja’s professionalism and service to the community, calling him one of his mentors and one from whom he seeks guidance.

During their session yesterday afternoon, senators also adopted a resolution “commending the life and outstanding contributions” of the late Gov. Eloy S. Inos, whose untimely passing at the age of 66 last week, after a protracted battle with diabetes, led to the shakeup in the leadership of the CNMI government and the Senate.

Sen. Jude Hofschneider, who had served under Inos as lieutenant governor, recalled Inos’ vast knowledge of government functions and as author of the CNMI’s procurement regulations.

Hofschneider pointed to the time when the CNMI was at its “worst situation” with the threat of the Retirement Fund crashing and the impeachment and resignation of former governor Benigno Fiital.

“It was a time really when the community was mad overall at the government,” Hofschneider said. “They wanted change.”

“The fact is, the gentleman we are discussing was not just a governor. This guy, he worked tirelessly. He was very selfish when it comes to doing work. He doesn’t want to divest a lot of his work” and didn’t have time “to sit down and shoot the breeze.”

Hofschneider recalled Inos’ work ethic, one who was an “institution in himself.”

“And perhaps, because of his inability to let go of some of his responsibility, his health gave way. He compromised that. I want to thank him” for showing the ways of government, Hofschneider said.

Sen. Sixto Igisomar, a former Commerce Department secretary, called Inos “pragmatic,” and a leader who allowed his Cabinet leaders to be “universally true” to themselves and pursue what they thought was right.

“I am sure heaven has gained a wonderful person,” he said. “Sometimes I wonder why we have so many idealists in our world—and I don’t think we need any more…but we need people that are pragmatic to be able to see the way our people are suffering the way” Inos saw it.

“He never ignored the people,” added Igisomar. “He has been solutions driven.”

Another former Cabinet member, Palacios, recalled issues of environmental mitigation, development, and submerged lands that were front and center and sensitive issues to the Commonwealth, during his time as former Department of Lands and Natural Resources secretary.

“But Gov. Inos gave us confidence,” added Palacios.

Dennis B. Chan | Reporter
Dennis Chan covers education, environment, utilities, and air and seaport issues in the CNMI. He graduated with a degree in English Literature from the University of Guam. Contact him at dennis_chan@saipantribune.com.

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