After hearing comments from eight members of the public who either support or oppose the impeachment of Gov. Benigno R. Fitial on Monday morning, the 18th House of Representatives has started deliberating on each of the 18 allegations of corruption, felony and neglect of duty against the governor.
All the 20 members of the House are present.
Fitial's four allies in the House-minority bloc leader George Camacho, Reps. Felicidad Ogumoro (R-Rota), Richard Seman (R-Saipan), and Teresita Santos (R-Rota)-are taking turns defending the governor on the first few articles of impeachment related to the unauthorized release of a federal inmate to give the governor a massage at his private residence during the wee hours of the morning on or about Jan. 8, 2010.
“The governor is not god, he cannot see everything in a perfect manner,” Seman said at 11:57am defending the governor.
The crowd in the House chamber and gallery is much thinner compared to the first time the House voted on a similar impeachment resolution in October 2012.
Police officers are visible, to ensure safety and security.
Former representative and governor Froilan Tenorio was the first to stand up during the public comment period, saying that the attempt to impeach Fitial is “a misguided use of raw political power that will bring shame to the Commonwealth and negatively affect our democracy for years to come.”
Florence Sablan, a private citizen, made reference to the “heavenly father” phrase that another individual used during her testimony last year, referring to the governor.
Sablan said if the governor is the “earthly father, he should obey laws.”
“This is the body that passes laws and the governor signs it into laws. And he is expected to obey laws. That's why I'm supporting the impeachment and maybe when we were more active in the past, it would have happened to another governor (too),” she added.
The House session may last until late afternoon.
If the House adopts the impeachment resolution, the process will move to the Senate for trial.
Fitial is the first CNMI governor to be a subject of two impeachment resolutions; the first impeachment resolution was voted down by his allies in the previous House. When majority of the voters almost wiped out the governor's candidates in the Nov. 6 elections, pro-impeachment candidates and incumbents introduced a similar impeachment resolution and this is the one that the House is currently deliberating on.
This story is developing.