Despite numerous attempts to obtain information about public lands, the Marianas Public Land Trust remains unsuccessful due to what it described as continuing non-cooperation of the Department of Public Lands.
MPLT board chair Pedro Deleon Guerrero told Saipan Tribune, however, that the agency will not give up on this matter because it remains firm in its intention to collect from the Department of Public Land $5 million to $7 million in unremitted land leases.
has been requesting financial data from DPL to determining how much the government truly generated from public land leases over the years. MPLT wants access to documents like actual lease agreements, permit agreements, and agricultural grazing permits.
Deleon Guerrero disclosed that a meeting took place between two agencies after the appointment of acting DPL secretary Pedro Itibus this year. From there, MPLT was assured of full cooperation by the new DPL leadership.
“[But] to our disappointment, we have not gotten any cooperation from them. We were made to wait for the audit report [of DPL] but we believe that most of the information that we need can be provided [to us],” said Deleon Guerrero.
Yesterday, MPLT trustees spent a few hours in executive session to discuss the DPL issue, among other subjects.
Deleon Guerrero disclosed that a new letter for the DPL secretary will be transmitted to the agency to reiterate their need for information.
Early this year, MPLT warned DPL of a potential lawsuit if the latter will continue with its uncooperative stance.
Deleon Guerrero said yesterday that MPLT “doesn't want to get into that [option] at this time” as they will try again to work with DPL under Itibus' leadership.
DPL was earlier urged by the MPLT trustees to make the necessary remittance to the trust for its investment growth. MPLT questions the calculations made by DPL on the remittances. DPL was also accused of violating the mandates of the law regarding the yearly remittance to the trust. These accusations have been repeatedly denied by previous DPL leadership, which also denied assertions that it is in possession of several million dollars that should be remitted to MPLT.
MPLT is the agency tasked to manage the revenues collected by government in public land leases. These revenues must be remitted to the Trust for investment.