Members of the Commonwealth Ports Authority board of directors shook up the leaderboard yesterday after long-time vice chair Benigno Sablan lost out to Thomas Kiyu Villagomez in a secret balloting held during yesterday’s meeting.
By a 4-3 vote, Villagomez was named the board’s new second in command. He once served as CPA vice chair when he was first appointed to the CPA board in 2010.
CPA is a seven-member board composed of Jose Lifoifoi, Barrie Toves, Fermin Sakisat, Frances Mafnas, Michael San Nicolas, Villagomez, and Sablan.
Just before the voting was called, Villagomez initially nominated Frances Mafnas to the vice chairmanship against Benigno Sablan, who was nominated by San Nicolas. Mafnas declined the nomination, resulting in Barrie Toves nominating Villagomez.
During a break in the meeting yesterday, Villagomez said he would like to work with the other members on some areas of priorities that must be looked into, including the lack of airline traveling to Rota as well as the issue of direct flights on Tinian, among other issues.
Meantime, Lifoifoi won the board chairmanship anew by acclamation. Lifoifoi, who also chairs the United Micronesia Development Association Inc., served as CPA chairman for four years until he quit in 2007. A year later, he was reappointed to the post and has been its chairman since then. Lifoifoi is a former House speaker and currently serves as the Republic of Palau’s honorary consul general to the CNMI.
Elected as board secretary is Frances Mafnas.
Prior to the election of officers, Villagomez attempted to defer the matter to board’s next meeting. Sablan opposed this and recommended the temporary suspension of CPA board bylaws, which prescribes that election of officers be made at a September regular meeting.
According to Sablan, holding the election of officers during a special meeting is permissible if the board will temporarily suspend the rules. He revealed that CPA has had no regular meeting for September and suspending the rules (Article 6, section 1) for now is not a deterrent at all.
“I recommend that we temporarily suspend the rules so we can have the election of officers as originally prescribed in the bylaws,” he said.
Villagomez, when asked why he pushed to defer the election, said that “too many suspensions of rules really distract the whole plan [for the board].”