3 retirees oppose Settlement Fund trustee pay hike

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Three retirees have opposed the pay increase of Settlement Fund trustee Joyce Tang that the U.S. District Court for the NMI had approved last week.

David and Remi Sablan and Juan Manglona Sablan are opposing the pay raise because they claim not to understand the rationale behind it. The court earlier approved raising Tang’s pay rate from $250 an hour to $350 an hour.

In a letter to U.S. District Court for the NMI designated judge Frances M. Tydingco-Gatewood, David and Remi Sablan said that Tang’s reasoning for the pay raise is based on the positive growth of the stock market “…and that is not a rightful claim because the positive growth of the stock market is certainly not attributed to their legal expertise nor the results of their legal services to the Settlement Fund.”

The couple added that Tang’s services to the Settlement Fund at this time should be routine—without innovative thinking nor creative legal services.

“For the legal counsel to simply ask for a raise in pay is truly and simply greed and should not merit approval,” they said.

The couple added that the staff at the office of the Settlement Fund administration should be able to operate smoothly doing daily routine work and periodic reporting to the court without a legal counsel’s daily supervision.
“Such supervision is simply a financial drain to the Settlement Fund. It only shortens the financial lifespan of the Settlement Fund,” they said.

In Juan Manglona Sablan’s letter to the court regarding the rate increase for Tang, he said the timing in requesting for an increase cannot be justified when private businesses and governments worldwide are experiencing financial hardship with substantial reduction of revenues due to the worldwide epidemic of COVID-19.

Additionally, Juan Manglona Sablan said that there are retirees who have the financial background and management experience and can serve as a trustee for the Settlement Fund.

“That person will make sure that he or she will do a good job because it affects his or her pension, too,” he said.
He noted that the Settlement Fund is paying 75% of the retirees’ pension while the CNMI government pays 25%. “With the decrease of revenues due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the CNMI government may have to reduce the 25%,” he said.
Tydingco-Gatewood approved the rate increase for Tang effective June 11, 2019.

Recently, the court also approved Tang’s request for compensation and reimbursement of expenses, saying they were reasonable.

She ordered the Settlement Fund to pay Tang the sum of $108,890.40 for the trustee’s invoices from December 2019 to July 2020.

Kimberly Bautista | Reporter
Kimberly Albiso Bautista has covered a wide range of news beats, including the community, housing, crime, and more. She now covers sports for the Saipan Tribune. Contact her at kimberly_bautista@saipantribune.com.

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