House Minority Leader George Camacho (R-Saipan) said yesterday that Rep. Felicidad Ogumoro (R-Saipan) and Rep. Teresita Santos (Ind-Rota) will be serving on the Special Committee on Impeachment that will review and make recommendations to the full House regarding a resolution impeaching Gov. Benigno R. Fitial for 18 allegations of corruption, neglect of duty, and felony.
Rep. Tony Sablan (IR-Saipan), chairman of the seven-member Impeachment Committee, said yesterday he's “pleased that we can proceed with the minority bloc represented.”
Of the seven members, five are from the leadership and two from the minority bloc aligned with the governor or his Republican Party. House Speaker Joseph Deleon Guerrero (IR-Saipan) wanted the minority bloc to be represented on the committee.
If and when all the 16 sponsors of the impeachment resolution vote “yes,” then the process would move to the Senate for trial in early February. The 16 are from the House leadership.
The Fitial administration is now bracing for an impeachment trial.
Camacho said yesterday he asked the minority bloc members whether they are willing to serve on the impeachment committee.
Santos, who accepted the opportunity to serve on the committee, said last night that among her several expectations are for the committee to “thoroughly review all the articles of impeachment and decide whether or not each article rises to the level of impeachable offense” and “to formulate or establish rules which would govern the articles of impeachment.”
“Likewise, to gather all evidence and make readily available for review by members, ensuring that a committee report is completed as well as being fair and impartial during the process,” she told Saipan Tribune.
Ogumoro, who served on the committee last year, initially yielded to freshman Rep. Richard Seman (R-Saipan), Camacho said. The minority leader said Seman gave way to Ogumoro since the former vice speaker has experience about the workings of an impeachment committee.
Sablan said the committee report and recommendation to the full House could wrap up by the end of January, and the process could be moved to the Senate right away for trial. This is because the impeachment panel has almost all the evidence it needs to review each of the articles of impeachment based on the work done by the previous committee, including subpoenaed documents, oral testimony, and videotaped proceedings and hearings.
Besides Sablan, Ogumoro, and Santos, the other members of the new impeachment committee are Vice Speaker Frank Dela Cruz (IR-Saipan), Rep. Ray Tebuteb (IR-Saipan), Rep. Edmund Villagomez (Cov-Saipan), and Rep. Chris Leon Guerrero (Cov-Saipan).