Rep. Janet Maratita (Ind-Saipan) “graciously declined” yesterday the offer for her to chair the Committee on Health and Welfare in the 18th House of Representatives, a decision that incoming Speaker Joe Deleon Guerrero (IR-Saipan) said he respects.
Maratita said she would like to give an opportunity instead to other new members to head the committee—representatives-elect Tony Agulto or J.P. Sablan.
“Why not? I think they deserve it,” she told reporters in an interview at her office. She said there are no hard feelings, and this won’t in any way affect her relationship with her colleagues in the House. She also wishes everyone in the new leadership well.
Deleon Guerrero said the Health and Welfare Committee will be chaired by Agulto.
During last week’s caucus, incoming members of the 18th House leadership elected officers. They picked Rep. Frank Dela Cruz (IR-Saipan) to become the next vice speaker, a post that Maratita earlier wanted to hold.
With or without chairmanship of any committee, Maratita believes she is “part of the leadership of the people, and I will continue to serve the people. I am more than ever committed to serve the peoples’ interest.”
She reiterated that she was elected to serve the people, not the leadership, not any political party or any other interest group.
Maratita is part of the incoming 16-member supermajority in the 20-member House.
She is one of the co-authors of a defeated resolution impeaching Gov. Benigno R. Fitial for 16 allegations of corruption, felony, and neglect of duty. The new leadership will be re-introducing the impeachment resolution in January. Maratita also sued the governor and others for signing a sole-source $190.8 million diesel power purchase agreement, one of the issues in the impeachment resolution.
The 18th Legislature will be sworn into office on Jan. 14. Both the incoming House and Senate have already chosen their officers. In the Senate, the new president will be Sen. Jude U. Hofschneider (R-Tinian), who would become lieutenant governor if the governor is impeached and convicted.