With tourist arrivals steadily climbing, businesses seeing brisk holiday sales, and a host of festivities around the islands, Gov. Eloy S. Inos, Delegate Gregorio Kilili C. Sablan (Ind-MP), and others hope for more blessings for the CNMI, offer prayers for the men and women in uniform celebrating Christmas in harm’s way, and honor those who passed on during the year.
“Though it’s been a challenging year, much progress has also been made since Lt. Governor [Jude] Hofschneider and I took office. This Christmas, we hope for more blessings to enable us to continue helping the people of the Commonwealth in the New Year. We should never give up on hope; we will not give up on the people,” the governor said yesterday.
The CNMI saw for the first time this year the resignation of a sitting governor, Benigno R. Fitial, on Feb. 20, just days after an impeachment trial at the Senate. This paved the way for Inos to become governor and for Hofschneider to become lieutenant governor.
While a political and constitutional crisis was averted and tourism is on the upswing, the government’s outstanding financial obligations have been piling up, including those it is required to pay into a global Retirement Fund settlement deal.
“This time of year, let’s remember loved ones who are far from us and those we have lost. Let’s remember our brave men and women who continue to defend our freedom. We pay homage to our heroes who have given their lives in the name of ours. It is a special time for us to acknowledge how much we have been blessed by the love of family and the gift of friendship with one another,” the governor added.
Sablan, the CNMI’s first and so far only nonvoting delegate to the U.S. House of Representatives, separately said he is “always very grateful for the support of our people and I will continue to work as hard as I can to represent the Northern Mariana Islands in Congress in the challenging days ahead.”
“Christmas is certainly the most wonderful time of the year here in the Northern Mariana Islands. Andrea, our families, and I extend to the people of the Northern Mariana Islands our best wishes on Christmas and the holiday season,” he said.
House minority leader George Camacho (R-Saipan) extends his “warmest” holiday greetings “most especially to our service men and women who cannot be with their family and friends over the holidays because they are protecting our freedom.”
“I look forward to everyone working together for our people and continuous growth in our economy as we work toward a stronger, better Commonwealth,” Camacho said.
Senate floor leader Ray Yumul (Ind-Saipan), for his part, called on the community to “remember those that have left us this year and remember them in our prayers.”
“I would like to wish everyone a safe and joyous holidays and New Year to come,” he added.
Rep. Edmund Villagomez (Cov-Saipan), chairman of the Committee on Commerce, said he looks forward to continue working “for the people and with my fellow colleagues, and the administration to try to make things better in the CNMI.”
Meanwhile, the governor issued a memorandum yesterday granting administrative leave today for the Executive Branch’s non-essential employees from 12:30pm through 4:30pm, and on Dec. 31, also for the second half of the work day.
“However, be advised that this shall not apply to all annual leave requests already approved before this issuance,” the governor said in his one-page memo to all department/activity heads.
Senate President Ralph Torres (R-Saipan) and House Speaker Joseph Deleon Guerrero (Ind-Saipan) also granted the same administrative leave for employees at the Legislature.
In other news, press secretary Angel Demapan said today’s swearing-in of newly confirmed Labor Secretary Edith DeLeon Guerrero has been rescheduled for Thursday, 11am, in the governor’s conference room on Capital Hill.
The swearing-in comes days after the Senate confirmed the nomination of DeLeon Guerrero, Superior Court Associate Judge Teresa Kim-Tenorio, Commonwealth Healthcare Corp. board trustee Roy Rios and Commonwealth Development Authority board member Ignacio Perez.