Gov. Benigno R. Fitial made and received phone calls to and from Department of Public Safety deputy commissioner Ambrosio Ogumoro and the governor's security aide/driver DPS Capt. Jermaine Nekaifes around the time former attorney general Edward T. Buckingham was allegedly avoiding the serving of penal summons and during his “escorted” departure from Saipan from the night of Aug. 3 and the early morning hours of Aug. 4.
These are based on phone records that the Special Committee on Impeachment subpoenaed and received from the Department of Finance and IT&E on Tuesday afternoon, shortly before the House was to go into a 2pm Wednesday session to act on a resolution impeaching the governor.
The impeachment resolution was defeated by a vote of 10-9 with one absence. At least 14 votes were needed to impeach the governor.
The phone records subpoenaed involved the mobile numbers of Ogumoro and Nekaifes, specifically the phone calls made and received between the night of Aug. 3 and early morning of Aug. 4.
Minority bloc members led by Joe Deleon Guerrero (R-Saipan) said the phone calls are just among the evidence pointing to Fitial's knowledge of and active participation in the shielding of serving of a penal summons on Buckingham and the use of law enforcement officers and other government resources to do so.
Press secretary Angel Demapan said yesterday “there is no evidence to suggest what was actually being discussed or who were on the phone.”
“We can't rely on speculation. It's time to move on,” Demapan added.
On the evening of Aug. 3, Fitial and Nekaifes spoke on the phone at 7:38pm, 8:43pm, 9pm, and 9:25pm.
Deleon Guerrero said the Aug. 3 night phone calls could be “circumstantial” but making phone calls during wee hours of the morning, just like on Aug. 4 when Buckingham was escorted by police officers such as Ogumoro and Nekaifes, were “very suspicious.”
Fitial and Ogumoro also spoke on the phone on Aug. 3 at 8:17pm and 8:53pm, and these were around the time when Buckingham was still at Aquarius Beach Tower in Chalan Kanoa.
On Aug. 4, Ogumoro made two calls to Buckingham at 3:16am and 3:21am.
Ogumoro also received a call from the governor at 3:52am, which Deleon Guerrero said could have been the time when Buckingham was escorted to the airport's VIP lounge.
Phone calls to Fitial were again made by DPS officers at 5:23am and 6:29am.
Deleon Guerrero said one could only conclude “they were reporting to the governor.”
The airport escort of Buckingham was among the 16 allegations of felony, corruption, and neglect of duty against the governor in the defeated impeachment resolution.