Torres becomes governor; Hocog is lt. gov.

Lt. Gov. Ralph DLG. Torres, center, is sworn into office as the Commonwealth’s newest governor during a ceremony at the Pedro P. Tenorio Multi-Purpose Center. At right is first lady Diann Torres holding the Bible, while at left is Office of the Governor public information specialist L.J. Castro.(Dennis B. Chan)

Lt. Gov. Ralph DLG. Torres, center, is sworn into office as the Commonwealth’s newest governor during a ceremony at the Pedro P. Tenorio Multi-Purpose Center. At right is first lady Diann Torres holding the Bible, while at left is Office of the Governor public information specialist L.J. Castro.(Dennis B. Chan)

In the wake of Gov. Eloy S. Inos’ death, acting governor Ralph Anthony Deleon Guerrero Torres ascended to the post of the CNMI governor yesterday morning at 11:45, administration officials said. Lawmakers, the mayor of Tinian, judges, justices, and CNMI attorney general attended the private ceremony inside Torres’ office. There were no clapping of hands or applause, officials attending the ceremony later said, and the atmosphere inside Torres’ office was somber.

About two hours after Inos’ passing, Torres became the youngest ever to serve as CNMI governor. He is also believed to be the first governor to have served in the Senate, and the first governor born after the approval of the CNMI Covenant over three decades ago. Torres was born on Aug. 6, 1979.

Now lieutenant governor Victor Hocog, formerly the Senate president, was flying in from Rota at the time, but was sworn in with Torres during a public ceremony at the Pedro P. Tenorio Multi-Purpose Center in Susupe later in the afternoon.

According to administration officials present, CNMI Attorney General Edward Manibusan spoke of the succession process during the private ceremony yesterday.

Manibusan said there would be no other documentation needed and the lieutenant governor would be the governor and the Senate president would be lieutenant governor, as mandated by the CNMI Constitution.

Torres was sworn into office with his wife, Diann, holding the Bible. Mrs. Torres did the same during the public ceremony in Susupe to a packed audience of department heads and agency officials, with family and friends and community members and business leaders attending the event that started around 3:30pm.

Around 15 minutes before 4pm, Torres raised his right hand and put his left hand on the Bible. Chief Justice Alexander Castro administered the oath of office.

“…I will faithfully discharge my duties as governor to the best of my ability, so help me God,” said Torres, to wide applause. And with that, he was governor.

While the ceremony was for Torres and Hocog, the loss of Inos was the center of their remarks.

“This is a speech I never want to deliver,“ Torres said to open his remarks. “This is a speech that our governor left.”

Torres continued in vernacular, offering his condolences to the Inos family and speaking of traits the late governor had that “you couldn’t find in people.” These traits made Torres comfortable to run for election with Inos and trust him, he said.

“He made me feel loved and cared” for, Torres said. “When I call him, he was always there.”

“One thing I learned from him—and I want everyone to know—he said, ‘Lieutenant, you’re going to be tested. Your relationships are going to be tested. Your integrity, your friendship, your family, and in even between us. But one thing I ask, whatever you do, take the time, think about it twice, maybe three times, whatever the decision you make, I will support that,’” Torres recalled.

Torres assured that he will continue to work to fulfill Inos’ dreams “to do what’s right.”

“The Commonwealth will be stronger because of his guidance. That I can assure. I may not know everything. But rest assured, I will be working with everyone,” Torres said. “We will work harder.”

“I ask that for the remainder of the week, we appreciate Gov. [Inos] for the things he has given to this Commonwealth,” Torres said.

The Senate expects to reorganize and elect a Senate president in the coming days, according to Sens. Franciso M. Borja and Sixto Igisomar, following the move of Hocog to the lieutenant governor post. Borja, who was Senate vice president, is now acting president.

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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