The Senate has yet to decide whether to discipline Sen. Juan Ayuyu (Ind-Rota), who has been in detention for a month now on new charges related to the first case of attempting to smuggle endangered fruit bats, in light of a Jan. 11 Office of the Attorney General opinion stating that Finance should continue to pay Ayuyu's salary, subsistence allowance, and staff and office expenses unless the Senate suspends or disciplines him.
Senate President Jude Hofschneider (R-Tinian) has assigned the Rules and Procedures Committee chaired by Sen. Ralph Torres (R-Saipan) to review the matter and make recommendations to the full Senate, but there's no telling how soon the panel could turn in its recommendation.
Absent any action from the Senate, Finance should continue to pay the senator's salary, subsistence, staff and office expenses in the same manner it did before Ayuyu's incarceration, the OAG said.
“With recent developments, I have assigned the Rules Committee to look further into the issue and will make recommendation to the full Senate,” Hofschneider told Saipan Tribune yesterday.
As a lawmaker, Ayuyu receives an annual salary of $39,300, $76,000 in annual discretionary funds that lawmakers use to hire staff and for office operations, and a $4,200 monthly subsistence allowance.
Sen. Jovita Taimanao (Ind-Rota) separately said in her “personal opinion,” the Senate should “wait for a court decision on his case before deciding on disciplining him such as expulsion.”
“Again, this is my personal opinion. We should just let the court decide first on the case, before we as senators decide what to do with him and that decision could include expelling him. He's not proven guilty so his salary should continue to be paid,” Taimanao said in a phone interview.
Last year, after an almost two-month review, the Senate Committee on Rules and Procedures that Hofschneider chaired recommended that senators refrain from taking any action against Ayuyu until after the U.S. District Court for the NMI decides on his indictment related to allegations that Ayuyu and another individual tried to smuggle eight fruit bats from Rota to Saipan in October 2010.
That recommendation, however, was made prior to Ayuyu's detention.
Ayuyu, 48, has been in continued detention pending his trial on new charges of obstruction of justice, tampering with witnesses, and attempting to destroy evidence related to his first case of attempting to smuggle endangered fruit bats from Rota to Saipan.
Ayuyu missed the inaugural session of the 18th Legislature and couldn't be given a committee chairmanship because he remains in detention.