Rep. Ray Yumul said yesterday that he remains a member of the House leadership and still considers himself a part of the Covenant Party.
“I’m still with the Covenant Party. I’m still a member of the leadership,” Yumul stressed in an interview.
The congressman, who won his re-election bid as an independent candidate in the Nov. 5 elections, admitted that he expressed his desire to become the vice speaker but he respects his colleagues’ decision to give the post to Democratic Party congressman Justo Quitugua.
“My ambition for vice speaker ended when members supported Rep. Quitugua during a caucus two weeks ago. I have no issues with that now,” said Yumul.
He expressed belief that Quitugua is good choice for the post, owing to his experience and educational background.
Yumul said he failed to attend the leadership’s meeting on Friday due to flu.
During the Friday meeting, the group made public its choice for Rep. Oscar M. Babauta as the next speaker and the inclusion of three non-Covenant Party lawmakers to the leadership bloc: Quitugua and congressman-elect Florencio Deleon Guerrero of the Democratic Party, and Rep. Martin Ada of the Republican Party.
Ada would get the chairmanship of the Committee on Commerce, which was previously chaired by Yumul prior to his assignment in Iraq.
Yumul’s military affiliation also explains why Yumul had to run independent of the Covenant Party. Yumul, an Army Reservist, has since returned from Iraq and will resume his work as a legislator.
The congressman said yesterday that he is not really “overly ambitious” as other might think.
“I chose to remain silent [over the vice speakership] because I don’t want to make a big deal out of it. Some think that I’m overly ambitious. I’m not. I’m a reasonable man. I don’t demand for the world,” said Yumul.
The congressman disclosed that he actually had a Friday afternoon meeting with Gov.-elect Benigno R. Fitial, Rep. Babauta, and Rep. Ada when he felt better from the flu. During the meeting, it was affirmed that he remains with the leadership and that Ada would get the Commerce Committee chairmanship.
As for himself, Yumul said that he would get special projects or special tasks addressing issues that affect the economic recovery in the CNMI.
“The governor-elect is interested in having me to work on special issues concerning economic revitalization,” said Yumul.
He said that there is a possibility of creating a new committee on foreign investments but the House leadership has to decide on it.
“As far as what the governor-elect wants for me, he wants me to assist in the quick implementation of policies and procedures so that we can revive the economy. It includes ways on how to quickly entice foreign investments,” he said.
Yumul holds a bachelor’s degree in business administration and marketing. His family owns YCO Hardware, Liberty Plaza, Jollibee, Naked Fish Bar and Restaurant, among known business interests.