Gov. Eloy S. Inos said yesterday that “ideally,” he would like to wait for a Supreme Court decision on a certified question before appointing a replacement for Juan M. Ayuyu, whose last day as a member of the 18th Senate was yesterday.
“I would have to consult with the Senate on that. Ideally, I would probably just wait for the Supreme Court decision,” he told reporters.
Ayuyu, 48, faces 33 to 41 months in prison in connection with smuggling endangered fruit bats from Rota to Saipan and obstruction of justice. He is awaiting sentencing in November.
Attorney General Joey Patrick San Nicolas, in a March 15, 2013, legal opinion, said if Ayuyu is convicted and a vacancy in the Senate exists, that vacancy will be filled by Joey Anthony Quitugua.
Just the same, the governor is considering a court decision on a certified question as to who will fill the Senate vacancy once Ayuyu’s resignation takes effect.
The court answer to that certified question would resolve the issue of whether the governor should appoint the next vote getter among Rota senatorial candidates in the 2009 or 2012 elections.
Senate Vice President Victor Hocog (R-Rota) said that, as chairman of the Rules and Procedures Committee, he would recommend to the governor to make an immediate appointment.
“A vacancy is a vacancy and there’s already a legal opinion from the AG about it,” Hocog said.
But first, Senate President Ralph Torres (R-Saipan) has to certify a vacancy in the Senate, which he is poised to do today.
Ayuyu is the first lawmaker in the 18th Legislature to step down from office.
If Ayuyu did not resign, his term won’t end until January 2015, way before the end of his possible prison term.
Ayuyu had been in jail since Dec. 17, 2012, and it was only weeks ago that he was allowed temporary release while awaiting sentencing.
He submitted his one-page resignation letter on Aug. 21, the day when the Rules and Procedures Committee was poised to recommend his expulsion if he didn’t submit his resignation.