Gov. Eloy S. Inos confirmed yesterday that Rep. Janet Maratita (IR-Saipan) is one of at least three individuals being considered for the post of Department of Community and Cultural Affairs secretary after the governor accepted Melvin Faisao's resignation last week.
The governor said a decision could be made in two to three weeks, or earlier. He declined to name the others being considered for the Cabinet post.
If Inos chooses Maratita, a special election for Precinct 1 where Maratita hails from will be held to fill the vacancy she will be leaving behind in the 20-member House of Representatives.
Maratita declined to comment yesterday when asked by reporters. It's been weeks since Maratita's name came up in relation to replacements for Cabinet members whose courtesy resignations will be accepted by the administration.
“Her name came up. I understand she has plans on resigning from the Legislature. I thought that she would be a resource person. So she, as well as others, [is] under consideration,” Inos told reporters after a Cabinet meeting yesterday.
He said Maratita “expressed her interest” in taking over the post.
Effective yesterday, Division of Youth Services director Laura Ogumoro serves as acting DCCA secretary.
A permanent DCCA secretary has yet to be named, for submission to the Senate for advice and consent.
House Speaker Joseph Deleon Guerrero (IR-Saipan), in a separate interview yesterday, said he has not heard from Maratita about her plans.
Deleon Guerrero said if Maratita becomes DCCA secretary and a special election needs to be held, the Legislature may also have to consider whether other legislative initiatives can be placed on the ballot as well for voters to decide on, although this means increasing the cost of holding a special election.
Meanwhile, Inos said he continues to review the performance reports submitted by other Cabinet members and agency heads, although there may be at least two more announcements this week.
The governor has already officially accepted or rejected some courtesy resignations.
During yesterday's Cabinet meeting, the governor also discussed budget-related issues and the impact of federal funding cuts because of sequestration.
Inos said the administration has yet to get a full picture of the impact of sequestration on the CNMI, where between 400 and 500 employees are funded using federal grants.
“Certainly it doesn't make sense to keep personnel on board who had nothing to do because the programs have been curtailed [because of lack of federal funds]. We have to balance that out. I hope we have that flexibility. It's a matter of allocating where the cuts should be,” Inos said.
Lt. Gov. Jude Hofschneider was not at the Cabinet meeting yesterday because of a death in the family on Tinian.