House Speaker Eli Cabrera (R-Saipan) has dissolved the Special Committee on Impeachment after a resolution impeaching Gov. Benigno R. Fitial for 16 allegations of corruption, neglect of duty, and felony was defeated last week. But panel chair Rep. Joe Deleon Guerrero (R-Saipan) said yesterday the committee's report will still be completed as part of the special panel's record of work that is now a part of CNMI history.
Cabrera's memo dissolving the special committee is dated Oct. 19, but a copy was sent only yesterday.
At the same time, Fitial reiterated his previous statement to the media stating, “I didn't do anything wrong, why would I be impeached?”
Deleon Guerrero said he has yet to see a copy of the speaker's memo but said Cabrera has the authority to dissolve the committee.
The House leadership pushed through with an Oct. 17 vote on the impeachment resolution, despite a request from the special committee to give them a few more days to complete the report and recommendation to the full House.
House Resolution 17-111, whose main author is Deleon Guerrero, got only nine of at least 14 “yes” votes needed to impeach the governor and move the process to the Senate for trial.
The 10 who voted “no” to the impeachment resolution are aligned with the governor and his Republican Party.
Hours before that critical vote, the Special Committee on Impeachment met for the last time to deliberate and vote on the remaining articles of impeachment and gave instructions to the Legislative Bureau to compile all the evidence gathered-including written testimony, documents, recording of the impeachment hearings, and a completed report on the findings and work of the committee.
“There will be a proper committee report even though I don't expect it to be signed by all the members,” Deleon Guerrero told Saipan Tribune.
Because this was the first time in CNMI history that a resolution impeaching the governor was introduced, taken up by a special committee and voted on by the House albeit without waiting for the committee report, records, and reports about the impeachment process in the House will still be part of the CNMI's political history.
“It's a little sad we didn't get to complete the report before the resolution was put to a vote. But evidence we gathered are available to future scholars, future leaders. Hopefully the records will be preserved,” he said.
The critical vote on the impeachment resolution came days before the Nov. 6 mid-term elections.
Evidence gathered by the impeachment committee are also available to federal agencies who may want to review the allegations raised against the governor, including the escape of a federal inmate to give the governor a private massage in January 2010 and the sole-source $190.8-million power purchase agreement, among other issues.