Despite a lengthy discussion on whether to conduct an annual review and performance evaluation for CEO Juan N. Babauta, the Commonwealth Healthcare Corp. board unanimously voted Friday to perform the task as mandated by Public Law 16-51 which established the corporation.
The decision was reached during Friday's board meeting where chair Joaquin Torres, initially expressed his opposition to the idea citing the move as “moot” at this time considering that Babauta's new contract has already been signed by Gov. Benigno R. Fitial and was concurred by the board in October.
Babauta's contract became the subject of controversy among and between board members when it was learned that the contract took effect without the discussion and endorsement by the board as what is required by law. Based on the two-page contract of Babauta, he was approved a $96,000 annual pay as CEO of the organization. It was signed last July 9 by Fitial, Babauta, and then attorney general Edward T. Buckingham. Last October, the board concurred with the agreement so it will be valid and legal in all terms.
Board member Anthony Raho was the one who pushed last Friday the conduct of the annual evaluation for the CEO, emphasizing to his colleagues that not fulfilling this task will mean a big failure for the board which is only in existence for barely a year now.
Raho's view was supported by vice chair Pete Dela Cruz who pointed out that format can still be established for the required review. He believes that the performance evaluation of the CEO has no bearing on the contract that was earlier concurred by the board.
The board, after spending an hour discussing the item, voted to conduct the review, which tools for evaluation, along with the format, have to be completed by Jan. 15. In the evaluation, each member is asked to provide their specific written comments on Babauta's performance as the organization's CEO.
Besides the review and performance evaluation for the CEO, members also adopted a decision affirming its goal to continue pursuing the $7-million loan proposal to Marianas Public Land Trust. These monies, although it got the approval of the Legislature, have yet been released to the corporation pending the passage of sin-tax bill that will earmark projected revenues to the hospital.
Babauta last Friday said that CHCC will continue its efforts to get these monies. This, despite his admission, that the incoming Legislature seems not interested in passing the CHCC-recommended sin-tax bill which he said is also unpopular among community members. Babauta said that the hospital is reviewing the list of items to be included in the sin-tax legislation to make sure these are in accordance with the public health's mandate to promote healthy foods to the community.
The CEO pointed out that the MPLT loan will provide CHCC breathing room only. In terms of survivability, he emphasized the need to continue the reduction-in-force, identify more certified public expenditure monies, reduce overtime costs, and other internal austerity measures.