Gov. Benigno R. Fitial hinted of plans to reduce the size of government during an interview on radio talk show Marianas Agupa on KWAW 100.3 FM on Saturday morning. He also raised allegations against a House of Representatives member over the purchase of 100 cakes for the elderly on Mother's Day.
Fitial did not name the lawmaker during the radio show or during an interview later.
Saipan Tribune learned from other sources, however, that the governor was referring to Rep. Janet Maratita (Ind-Saipan), who belied the allegations that she described as “another desperate act” to smear her name.
“They would do everything to break my bones, but the truth will come out,” Maratita said.
Maratita filed a lawsuit to stop Gov. Benigno R. Fitial and others from pursuing a $190.8-million power purchase agreement, which is one of the issues in the resolution to impeach the governor. Maratita is also one of the seven co-authors of the impeachment resolution.
Last week, House Speaker Eli Cabrera (R-Saipan) removed Maratita as chairperson of the House Committee on Education.
Maratita said she considers all these as acts of “intimidation, desperation and retaliation.”
“They're making an issue out of this. It's another desperate attack,” she said.
The allegations against Maratita stemmed from her order of 100 pieces of cakes from a bakery to be given to the elderly on Mother's Day in May.
Each cake costs $3.55, for a total of $355 for 100 pieces.
Maratita said she used her own money to pay for the cakes and later asked the Department of Finance to reimburse her $355, just like any other lawmaker who buys bottled water, for example, for their constituents.
Her detractors said the cakes didn't reach the Man'Amko Center or the Center on Aging in Garapan, but the ordered cakes were picked up from the bakery.
But Maratita said the cakes were not meant for the elderly at the Office on Aging, but for the female elderly at the parishes in Precinct 1: San Antonio, San Vicente, and Saint Jude parishes.
“So of course the cakes won't reach the Man'Amko Center because that's not ordered for them, but for the man'amko outside the center, those in Precinct 2,” she said.
The Office of the Public Auditor investigated the matter.
Maratita said in the beginning, OPA put a stop to the reimbursement process.
“Later on OPA said Finance can reimburse me, when OPA's investigation didn't see violations. Up to now Finance has yet to reimburse me,” she said.
On July 2, OPA legal counsel George Hasselback wrote a letter to House Speaker Eli Cabrera (R-Saipan), “rescinding” a June 5 letter sent to the speaker regarding complaints about Maratita.
“Please take no action on the matters contained therein. If there is any need to further communicate with you on this matter, another letter will be forthcoming. Thank you and my apologies if this has caused you any inconvenience,” Hasselback said in a one-page letter, a copy of which was obtained yesterday by Saipan Tribune.
During Fitial's radio interview, he said he will reduce the size of government, something that the Saipan Chamber of Commerce and the Senate have been asking for.
Fitial also reiterated his written message to the public which he issued last week, in lieu of a letter he was supposed to send to the Legislature answering each of the 16 Articles of Impeachment.