Members of the CNMI House of Representatives exchanged well wishes before adjourning last week. The 20th Legislature opens today with six new members joining incumbents that were re-elected.
House Speaker Rafael S. Demapan (R-Saipan), who would retain his post, praised everyone for making the 19th Legislature one of the most productive. “I pray for a prosperous 2017 for all of us as we conclude our work in the 19th Legislature. I honor each one of you for representing the people to the best of your abilities.”
“It has been two productive years that is based on respect, cooperation, and reaching a common ground. A highlight of our work as representatives of the people was when we came together in recovering from one of the worst disasters to hit Saipan.”
He added there are still a lot of things that need to be done and asked the public to join them in addressing some key issues in the Commonwealth. “We can’t solve everything on our own. We must be unwavering in our commitment to solve some of our problems.”
“Together we can solve these issues. We recognize the ‘ice’ epidemic and we must strengthen our efforts to combat this menace. We have made some progress with the drug court and rehabilitation center but there’s still a lot of work that needs to be done.”
Vice Speaker Joseph P. Deleon Guerrero (Ind-Saipan) said it has been an interesting 19th Legislature since for the first time in CNMI history a shared speakership took place. He ran under the Republican Party last election and won.
“A lot of people said it was not going to work and it was shaky at first but through the open mindedness it worked. It showed two different styles of leadership. The 19th is one of the best that I had to work with, where we reached a certain level of maturity.”
“Our deliberations may be partisan and our votes go another way but it speaks of our maturity. We were faced with a lot of challenges but managed to pass meaningful bills. The people had been well represented and every member rose to the occasion.”
Outgoing floor leader George N. Camacho (R-Saipan) said it has been an honor serving the people, especially Precinct 4. “It has been an honor to represent the people of Precinct 4 and you and a privilege to work with my colleagues here in the House.”
“Not all of us are given the chance to serve the people and I have served the people to the best of my abilities. We accomplished a lot, appropriated more money, and had a lot of significant work done.”
Minority leader Ramon A. Tebuteb (Ind-Saipan) thanked the shared leadership of Demapan and Deleon Guerrero. “We might argue and debate passionately on several issues but there’s nothing personal and we’re just doing our job. At the end of the day, we respect each other’s positions.”
Anthony T. Benavente (Ind-Saipan), Roman C. Benavente (Ind-Saipan), Antonio P. Sablan (Ind-Saipan), and Ralph N. Yumul were unlucky in their respective re-election bids while Reps. Felicidad T. Ogumoro and Francis S. Taimanao decided not to run again.
Representatives-elect Francisco C. Aguon, Donald C. Barcinas, Ivan A. Blanco, Alice S. Igitol, Jose I. Itibus, and Gregorio M. Sablan Jr. are the new faces in the House and will be joining the returning Francisco S. Dela Cruz and Janet U. Maratita.
GOP representatives Edwin P. Aldan, Angel A. Demapan, Joseph Leepan Guerrero, Glenn L. Maratita, and John Paul Sablan, and independents Blas Jonathan T. Attao, Lorenzo I. Deleon Guerrero, Edwin K. Propst, Vinson E. Sablan, and minority leader Edmund S. Villagomez are the other members of the House.