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Thursday, April 24, 2014

Senate hands off on Ayuyu

After an almost two-month review, the Senate Committee on Rules and Procedures chaired by Senate Vice President Jude U. Hofschneider (R-Tinian) recommended that senators refrain from taking any action against Sen. Juan Ayuyu (Ind-Rota) until after the U.S. District Court for the NMI decides on his indictment related to allegations that Ayuyu and another individual tried to smuggle eight fruit bats from Rota to Saipan in October 2010.

“Your committee recommends that the Senate respect the judicial process of the NMI District Court and Senator Ayuyu should be afforded the opportunity to address this matter before the court. Your committee further recommends that the Senate refrain from taking any action until such time that the court renders its decision in this matter,” the panel concluded in its four-page report, a copy of which was obtained Friday afternoon.

Of the eight members of the committee, five signed off on the report dated Dec. 10. They included chairman Hofschneider, vice chair and Senate floor leader Pete Reyes (IR-Saipan), Sen. Henry San Nicolas (Cov-Tinian), Sen. Jovita Taimanao (Ind-Rota), and Sen. Frank Cruz (R-Tinian).

Three others didn’t sign the report: Senate President Paul Manglona (Ind-Rota), Sen. Ralph Torres (R-Saipan), and Sen. Luis Crisostimo (R-Saipan).

On Oct. 19, 2012, a federal grand jury indicted Ayuyu and former Rota Municipal Council staffer Ryan James I. Manglona on charges of conspiring to violate and for violating the Endangered Species Act and the Lacey Act when they allegedly tried to smuggle eight fruit bats from Rota to Saipan two years ago.

Two months ago, when Ayuyu was indicted, the Senate said Ayuyu as is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty. The Senate said he continues to be a senator.

Ayuyu, 48, is a freshman senator heading the Senate Committee on Public Utilities, Transportation and Communications. He recently butted heads with Rep. Janet Maratita (IR-Saipan) over the senator’s meeting with Saipan Development LLC regarding a no-bid $190.8 million diesel power purchase agreement that is under temporary injunction. The two have since mended fences.

In an earlier interview about the indictment, Ayuyu said he never intended to break any law and did not harm anyone but that he respects the judicial process.

As of yesterday, senators declined to comment on the report.

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