Senate President Paul Manglona (Ind-Rota) said yesterday the Senate is considering rejecting Gov. Benigno R. Fitial's emergency declaration for the NMI Retirement Fund and the extended declaration for the Commonwealth Utilities Corp., but a final decision will be made after senators meet with Fund and CUC officials and stakeholders.
The Senate might hold a session next week.
Manglona said the Senate leadership has sought legal opinion on the governor's emergency declarations.
“The Commonwealth Retirees Association also requested the Senate to reject the Fund EO. We are considering such action,” Manglona said.
The Senate president said they still consider rejecting the CUC emergency declaration, which the governor extended on Saturday for another 30 days. Manglona said CUC issues could be addressed without placing it under the governor's control, and hopes that the administration is not trying to circumvent procurement laws and rules to award contracts to “favored” investors engaged in renewable energy, among other things.
At the same time, Rota resident Joe Ayuyu said yesterday he's preparing to stage a peaceful protest in front of the Fund office on Rota, saying that the governor violated Article III Section 20 of the NMI Constitution when he placed the Fund under a state of emergency.
Ayuyu said he is protesting on behalf of his 90-year-old mother, a retired teacher, whom he said fears having her retirement pension cut as a result of the emergency declarations.
He said the placards or banners he will be carrying say it all: “State of emergency declaration for NMI Retirement Fund unconstitutional, violates Article III Section 20 of the CNMI Constitution,” and “Governor Fitial, you are not above the law. Lack of funds is not or never a justification to violate the law.”
Ayuyu also said the governor's state of disaster emergency declaration fails to pass constitutional muster, and this was what Delegate Gregorio Kilili Sablan (Ind-CNMI) earlier pointed out.
Examples of “disasters” are the occurrence or imminent threat of a widespread or severe damage, injury, or loss of life or property resulting from any natural or man-made cause, including, but not limited to, typhoons, tornadoes, storms, floods, high waters, wind-driven waters, tidal waves, earthquakes, fires, oil spills, or other water contamination requiring emergency action to avert danger or damage, volcanic activity, epidemic, air contamination, blight, drought, infestation, or explosion.