The Fitial administration didn't execute any contract for Commonwealth Healthcare Corp. CEO Juan N. Babauta, according to press secretary Angel Dempan.
In an email to Saipan Tribune, Demapan said his office has not seen a document pertaining to the CEO's contract, which is among the issues of contention between corporation board members.
“The governor has not executed a contract for CEO Babauta. My office has not seen anything that suggests such a contract,” stated Demapan.
Babauta, a former governor, retired from government service and has been receiving pensions amounting to over $90,000 per annum.
He was appointed the corporation's chief executive officer on Oct. 24 last year, a position he served without pay for some months until it was reported that he was receiving a salary from the corporation.
Babauta has refused to comment on the matter, saying he wants to focus on serious matters at the corporation, which is suffering from severe financial challenges.
Saipan Tribune also failed to obtain comments from corporation board chair Joaquin Torres.
Torres emphasized, however, that the current board is not a governing commission that can dictate and mandate the operations of the hospital. The final decision, he said, always lies with the CEO.
Babauta's contract was among the “issues” raised by board members Anthony Aguon and Anthony Raho in recent emails to Torres.
They claim that the board was not made aware of the CEO's contract. This is in addition to request for immediate board meetings to discuss other matters.
Saipan Tribune also tried to get comments about the CEO's contract from Allen Hazlip, the organization's legal counsel, to no avail.
Meantime, corporation board member Pedro Q. Dela Cruz told Saipan Tribune that the board had plans to conduct an annual performance evaluation of the CEO.
“As far as I am concerned the board is to conduct an annual performance for the CEO. If a renewal has been approved, it raises a lot of questions and should this is true, this is why the CHCC is such a mess,” Dela Cruz said. “The board's performance for the first year is a disappointment that could have been better.” He did not elaborate.
Finance Secretary Larissa Larson said Wednesday that her office has no involvement in the processing of Babauta's contract.
“The only money I transfer is what is budgeted for appropriation. I do not decide where their money goes after that. The only transactions we actually process are related to federal grants and we are transitioning that responsibility to CHCC as well,” said Larson.
CHC, she added, is in transition toward becoming an autonomous agency.
“We are here to support them in any way we can. I do not have a timeline yet because the transition takes time due to the complicated process involved and does not happen overnight. It has been part of our plan all along and is what was intended in the law.”