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Sunday, April 20, 2014

Processing of contracts, procurement deals stopped at CPA

The chairman of the Commonwealth Ports Authority board of directors suspended yesterday all financial transactions and activities at the agency, based on a memorandum issued to outgoing executive director Edward Deleon Guerrero.

Jose Lifoifoi’s memo was directly addressed to Deleon Guerrero, who is now barred from making any decision on matters related to the agency, particularly on contracts and procurement deals, among others.

“Effective immediately, contracts, procurement requests, all personnel actions, travel authorizations or requests, and other matters initiated by you are suspended,” Lifoifoi’s directive states.

Deleon Guerrero was fired by the board last week. He has asked that he be allowed to work for 10 more days to complete all necessary paperwork. That 10-day period ends on Thursday, May 24.

According to Lifoifoi, the memorandum is to provide Deleon Guerrero with instructions during the period that he is terminating his employment with CPA.

Also yesterday, Lifoifoi informed ports personnel that the executive director post, which will officially be vacated on May 24, will be temporarily filled by MaryAnn Q. Lizama, the agency’s ports manager on Saipan.

“To ensure a smooth transition, [Deleon Guerrero] will work with Ms. Lizama prior to his departure. Ms. Lizama will then take the helm as CPA’s acting executive director thereafter and will remain as such up until a permanent executive director is appointed,” Lifoifoi’s memorandum states.

Besides Deleon Guerrero’s termination, the board also voted not to renew the $75,000 contract of comptroller Derek Sasamoto. He was given 30 days to vacate the pos. No interim replacement has been named yet. As of yesterday, Sasamoto has yet to comment on the matter.

The executive director post, along with the comptroller position, will be announced later.

Saipan Tribune earlier reported that the board may likely appoint former lieutenant governor Diego Benavente to the position.

Sources disclosed that the termination and non-renewal of the two officials’ contracts came about due to allegedly “unsatisfactory performances.”

Saipan Tribune learned that Lizama will appoint as early as next week a temporary replacement for Sasamoto.

Sasamoto’s contract expired in March this year while Deleon Guerrero’s contract was due to expire in December 2013.

It was learned that an internal investigation is being conducted at CPA in connection with allegations of wrongdoing. Among the issues being probed are hiring practices and allegedly questionable award of contracts.

Lifoifoi declined to comment about the “internal probe” when asked for comment yesterday.

CPA is an autonomous agency that operates all the islands’ airports and seaports. It has a little over 200 employees on Saipan, Tinian, and Rota. Most of its projects are funded by the federal government through the Federal Aviation Administration’s airport improvement project program.

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