The Inos administration welcomes President Barack Obama's decision to name Eileen Sobeck as acting Assistant Secretary for Insular Affairs at the U.S. Department of the Interior, over a month since the Feb. 1 resignation of Anthony “Tony” M. Babauta.
Obama issued a March 18 memo directing Sobeck, currently deputy assistant secretary for Fish and Wildlife and Parks, to “perform the duties of the office of Assistant Secretary of the Interior (Insular Areas)” effective immediately.
Interior's Office of Insular Affairs Director Nik Pula relayed Obama's memo to insular areas until the appointment and confirmation of the next Interior Assistant Secretary for the Insular Areas.
Press secretary Angel Demapan said the administration values the position of an assistant secretary to oversee issues directly affecting the CNMI and other insular areas.
“Gov. Inos and Lt. Gov. Hofschneider are grateful to President Obama for his decision to ensure the continuity of such a position. While we await an official appointment from the White House, the administration is pleased to learn that Acting Assistant Secretary Sobeck will continue serving in this position. Having previously served at the helm of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Ms. Sobeck is very familiar with the peculiar needs and issues of island territories like the CNMI,” Demapan told Saipan Tribune.
He added that the administration is confident that under Sobeck's leadership, the Interior and its OIA “will continue to be a valued partner that we can work closely with to address pressing matters in the Commonwealth.”
Delegate Gregorio Kilili C. Sablan (Ind-MP) earlier said the Obama administration's decision to retain the post previously held by Babauta ensures “enhanced status to island issues.”