Supreme Court associate justice John A. Manglona denied yesterday the emergency motion filed by Gov. Benigno R. Fitial to postpone a show-cause hearing on a contempt case filed by Rep. Janet Maratita (IR-Saipan) over a controversial no-bid $190.8-million power purchase agreement.
Manglona stated that Fitial has failed to show the “possibility of irreparable injury” if the hearing is not postponed.
Fitial filed the emergency motion for stay on Dec. 31. The show-cause hearing was slated yesterday in the Superior Court.
“Because we find that Fitial has failed to show the possibility of irreparable injury, if we do not take the extraordinary action of intervening into an ongoing Superior Court case, his emergency motion to stay the show cause hearing is hereby denied,” stated the decision.
Fitial, in his Dec. 31 filing, requested the Supreme Court to issue an extraordinary writ of prohibition for the purpose of forbidding the Superior Court from proceeding with the hearing for the order to show cause against him. Fitial believes that the Superior Court erred when it issued the order to show cause based on the “blatantly insufficient” declaration of Maratita.
Fitial's filing stated that Maratita's declaration also failed to comply with procedural requirements while the motion for an order to show cause advocates for an unconstitutional interpretation of the injunctions.
But according to Maratita, through her counsel Ramon K. Quichocho, there is “no emergency, no irreparable harm, and a stay is unwarranted” on the show cause hearing.
Quichocho, in his filing yesterday, stated that Fitial violated Supreme Court Rule 27-2. He said the order to show cause gives Fitial and SDLLC an opportunity to be heard why they should not be held in contempt for violating the Superior Court orders, and not to prevent them from exercising all the powers as government of the CNMI.
Quichocho added that the injunction orders were entered with the consent of Fitial. He said Fitial's worry that the Superior Court will prevent him from exercising all of his powers as governor is premature.
On the allegations that Maratita's declaration is insufficient, Quichocho said this issue is moot as the court had already issued an order to show cause.
“The Maratita declaration contains facts supporting the order to show cause, which is the very reason that the court granted an order to show cause. More importantly, the Maratita declaration is further corroborated by Fitial's own text messages to Sen. Ayuyu, which Fitial completely failed to address in his opposition to the order of show cause,” stated Quichocho in his filing yesterday.