Some private citizens, including Glen Hunter and Ed Propst, are organizing an Oct. 21 “rally against corruption,” ahead of an expected House of Representatives vote on a resolution impeaching Gov. Benigno R. Fitial for 16 allegations of corruption, neglect of duty, and felony.
“Most people feel that corruption in the CNMI is at an all-time high,” Hunter told Saipan Tribune on Sunday.
Even though the impeachment process is ongoing at the House, Hunter said the governor “is still publicly breaking the law and neglecting his duties.”
“He [governor] has yet to acknowledge or take responsibility for his past acts of corruption and neglect, and he continues to misuse public resources with more sole-sourced contracts, more violations of law, and more abuses of power,” Hunter added.
These include the sole-source $190.8-million power purchase agreement with Saipan Development LLC for 25 years and a no-bid $392,406 ARRA management contract, both among the issues in the impeachment proceedings.
The anti-corruption rally will be held some two weeks before the Nov. 6 mid-term elections wherein at stake are positions currently held by those aligned with the governor.
The anti-corruption rally will include road waving on Sunday from 10am to 12pm at the Microl Intersection in San Jose, the same spot where a pro-impeachment road waving was held last Sept. 16.
On that same day, an anti-impeachment/pro-Fitial rally was held meters away, at the Minatchom Atdao Pavillion in Susupe.
Some Fitial supporters told Saipan Tribune that they are not aware of any pro-Fitial rally on Oct. 21.
Press secretary Angel Demapan separately said Sunday, “I'm not aware of any at this time.”
Hunter said they are building on the momentum and the spirit of the first rally weeks ago.
“One of the things that encouraged us to hold another rally was the positive response that we got from so many members of the public after the first event. We were also moved to stage another rally after watching nine days of impeachment proceedings. The testimonies on all 16 articles of impeachment have revealed the depths of corruption and neglect of duty by this governor that continue to oppress our community,” he said.
Hunter said he and others are thankful for the efforts by certain entities such as the Office of the Public Auditor, some members of the 17th Legislature, and some members of the Judiciary in curbing corruption.
“We as citizens must support those who are actively fighting corruption on our behalf and we must also unite and take action to show our opposition to corruption,” he added.
The Special Committee on Impeachment wrapped up its impeachment hearings yesterday and will move on to preparing a committee report and recommendation to the full House of Representatives.
At least 14 “yes” votes are needed in the 20-member House to impeach the governor and at least six “yes” votes in the nine-member Senate to convict him. In the House, the majority is aligned with the governor.
One of Fitial's supporters said Sunday that a Fitial impeachment “is not going to happen.”
Hunter said one of the goals of the Oct. 21 rally is to encourage legislators “to move forward with impeachment and hold the governor accountable for his acts of corruption and neglect.”
“Second, we want to provide a stage for all candidates in the upcoming election, as well as their supporters, regardless of party affiliation, to come out and show their commitment to fighting corruption, and their support for impeachment. Third, we will be celebrating all the positive steps that have been taken in the fight against corruption, and the progress that we as a community have made through lawsuits, petitions, blogs, letters to the editor, and personal conversations with one another,” he said.
He also said that lately, “a select group of corrupt 'insiders' have been fanning the flames of racism, fear, and hatred at pocket meetings and picnic tables in their attempts to divide our small community. Cover-ups and cloaks of secrecy are required by the corrupt, and so is division. This rally is a direct challenge to those insiders and their tactics. This is a rally for unity and solidarity to defeat corruption, and everyone who cares about the future of our CNMI is invited to join, regardless of age, race, culture, nationality, or party affiliation,” Hunter said.
Hunter also shared a quote his sister shared with him after the first rally: “I always wondered why somebody didn’t do something about it. Then I realized I am somebody.”
“We are all somebody. Please stand with us at the rally against corruption,” he added.
This is the first time in CNMI history that a resolution impeaching the governor has been pre-filed, introduced, and reviewed by a special committee.