Fresh off from his swearing in as the CNMI's eighth chief executive, Gov. Eloy S. Inos said Friday that the “Commonwealth has reached political maturity” considering that its people were able to prevent a constitutional crisis or social unrest to see a leadership change.
Delegate Gregorio Kilili C. Sablan (Ind-MP), for his part, said the CNMI was able to see a “smooth transition” of power arising from a clamor for change in governance.
Inos was sworn in Wednesday afternoon, a few hours after former governor Benigno R. Fitial resigned barely 15 days before his impeachment trial at the Senate on 18 charges of corruption, commission of felony, and neglect of duty.
Fitial is the first governor in the CNMI and any U.S. insular area to be impeached by the House of Representatives. He is also the first CNMI governor to resign.
“We've been under a commonwealth for more than 30 years and we've been tested. There was a feeling that we came close to a constitutional crisis. It's never happened when we had to do the impeachment issues and so forth but we went thought that. That tells us that we've reached a level of political maturity. I believe we're at a time when we can actually run our government and credit should go to the people for still having the faith in us running our local government,” Inos told Saipan Tribune.
Inos and Sablan witnessed the reorganizational session of the Senate on Friday afternoon, two days after former Senate president Jude U. Hofschneider was sworn in as lieutenant governor under the rule of succession.
Inos, the lieutenant governor during most of Fitial's administration, said the leadership change didn't result from rebellion and civil unrest, just like what has happened in other parts of the world.
“We should continue to be vigilant and the interest of the people should always come first,” Inos added.
This year would mark the 37th year of the signing of a document that made the Northern Marianas a part of the United States. To honor that historic moment, the CNMI has set aside March 24 as a Covenant Day holiday.
On March 24, 1976, President Gerald Ford signed a joint congressional resolution approving a mutually negotiated “Covenant to Establish a Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands in Political Union with the United States.”
The Covenant defines the unique relationship between the Northern Marianas and the United States, recognizing U.S. sovereignty but limiting, in some respects, applicability of federal law.
Sablan agreed with Inos' assessment of the CNMI's political maturity.
“We know where we're at. What happened recently is a drama of political importance. It turned out good for the Commonwealth and its people. I wish we didn't have to go through the impeachment process but we did, but it turned out for the better,” he said.
Inos and Sablan, along with Hofschneider and House Speaker Joseph Deleon Guerrero (IR-Saipan), said it is now time to “move on” and address critical issues such as improving the healthcare and pension systems and boosting the economy.