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Thursday, April 17, 2014

House vote on impeachment set for Monday

House Speaker Joseph Deleon Guerrero (IR-Saipan) said late yesterday afternoon that a session will be called for Monday, wherein the full House will vote on a resolution impeaching Gov. Benigno R. Fitial for 18 allegations of corruption, felony, and neglect of duty.

Monday’s session will give all the 20 House members ample time to review the Special Investigating Committee on Impeachment’s report and recommendation that they will pre-file today.

The special panel adopted all 18 articles of impeachment last week, but has yet to adopt the final report and recommendation to the full House to adopt each of the articles.

Rep. Tony Sablan (IR-Saipan) said yesterday that the final committee report will be distributed to all members once it is pre-filed with the House clerk today.

“The committee is expected to finalize the report Thursday, sign it, adopt it, and pre-file with the clerk. All members will have the opportunity to read the report in time for the House session,” Sablan told Saipan Tribune.

House minority bloc leader George Camacho (R-Saipan) separately said yesterday that the minority bloc will also be preparing a “position response to H.R. 18-2.”

He said this is not necessarily a report. The four minority bloc members are aligned with the governor or members of the governor’s Republican Party.

Two from the minority bloc—Reps. Felicidad Ogumoro (R-Saipan) and Teresita Santos (R-Rota)—were earlier appointed to serve on the special impeachment committee but they later withdrew their membership.

Meanwhile, the special committee’s original working draft report is 51 pages long. But since Tuesday, the committee has been reviewing the working draft page by page and in the process, removing and adding parts as they go along.

At least 14 “yes” votes are needed in the 20-member House to move the impeachment process to the nine-member Senate wherein at least six affirmative votes are needed to convict the governor.

This will only be the second time in CNMI history that the House will vote on a resolution impeaching the governor. The first one was in 2012, but the move was easily defeated by the governor’s allies in the House leadership.

Voters removed most of the governor’s allies in the House in the 2012 elections, giving the second impeachment resolution a much better chance to move to the Senate for trial.

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