Former governor Benign R. Fitial left Saipan during the early morning hours of Feb. 21, a day after resigning from office.
Capital Hill sources said Fitial is now in California. Fitial has property in San Diego.
The new governor, Eloy S. Inos, has not spoken with his predecessor after being sworn into office on Feb. 20. Inos said he last saw and talked to Fitial when the latter walked to his office when he was still lieutenant governor around 9:40am on Feb. 20. That was the time when Fitial handed his resignation letter to Inos.
Inos was sworn in as governor some four hours after Fitial's resignation.
Fitial stepped down days ahead of his impeachment trial in the Senate on March 7. The House of Representatives impeached Fitial on 18 charges of corruption, felony and neglect of duty.
Yesterday, former governor Froilan Tenorio, who testified against impeaching Fitial before the House of Representatives on Feb. 11, said he knew Fitial left the day after resigning.
“The reason I knew that he left the island was because that same day, Juan Tenorio, from bowling, he took his wife up to the airport because she was also leaving on this flight. But if not for that I wouldn't know he left the next day,” Tenorio told reporters on Capital Hill yesterday.
He said he has not seen or talked to Fitial since.
Fitial cited health reasons for stepping down. He said he was ready to fight the impeachment trial.
Tenorio told House members during its Feb. 11 session when they voted on 13 of 18 articles of impeachment against Fitial that the attempt to impeach Fitial “is a misguided use of a raw political power that will bring shame to the Commonwealth and negatively affect our democracy for years to come.”
Tenorio, also a former House speaker, said it was his own initiative to testify against Fitial's impeachment.
“Personally I was just trying to protect the Office of the Governor. I don't want to make it so easy for the Legislature to be impeaching governors, especially in the future, so that's the reason why I went and said something,” he said.
Tenorio said he has not met with the new governor.
“But I like to say that I think he [Inos] should show the people that he's different from the former governor,” he said.
The former governor also said he is not giving up on his proposal in the 17th Legislature to allow casino operations on Saipan. He said the only reason he ran for representative was to legalize casino operations on Saipan to help the NMI Retirement Fund.
He said he gave copies of his proposed legislation to current House members and plans to meet with them. Tenorio reiterated that legalizing casinos on Saipan is the only one that can immediately fund the dying pension agency, which he said needs at least $50 million a year for its members.
“Until this weekend I thought they [House members] were only suspicious about the [former] governor [Fitial] but I found out that they were also suspicious of me, that I was pushing for a casino because I have an investor I was associated with. Let me tell you. I don't know anybody. I'm not doing anything about the casino because I'm trying to help somebody,” he added.