“I feel sad,” Gov. Juan N. Babauta admits in a low voice, a meditative look on his face while seated in his office chair on Capitol Hill. His head moved down a little, then he looked up and continued: “I really like my job. It’s very fulfilling. It’s very rewarding.”
In his last media interview during his last working day on Friday, Babauta said that he was really bent on working hard as governor for four more years.
“I’m very sad that I’m not able to serve for another four years,” he said, referring to his exit from government tomorrow resulting from his failed electoral attempt to serve for another four years as governor.
Babauta began his day Friday at 7:30am, hosting coffee and breakfast for some friends in his residence in Gualo Rai until about 10am.
At 10:30am, he went to the Grotto in Marpi to do his last gubernatorial ribbon-cutting activity for the Grotto Rehabilitation Project, an event which he said fittingly reflected his administration’s emphasis on environmental issues.
“This will be my last ribbon-cutting as governor. And I am quite pleased that this final act is one that protects the environment of our islands,” Babauta had remarked.
The governor stayed in the Grotto area until noon, eating a sandwich for his lunch.
From the Grotto, he proceeded to his office to meet with some people. He went out at about 2pm with some friends for a meal at Kingfisher’s Restaurant. After an hour, he returned to his office to sign documents and meet more people.
As of 4pm, the governor had no schedule yet for dinner. He said he would probably just go out with some friends.
Babauta said he did not sign any more bills into laws during his last day.
“It’s just mainly personnel, contract documents,” he said.
Babauta said earlier that he planned to serve out his term up to the last day because “the people of the CNMI deserve no less.”
He remains the governor until Monday, Jan. 9, at 2pm when his successor, Gov.-elect Benigno R. Fitial, will be sworn in at American Memorial Park.
Babauta said that serving as governor “has been a tremendous honor for me.”
“I think it’s the biggest honor that can be bestowed on anyone. I really learned a lot. It has been a learning experience for me,” he said.
The governor, 52, who won by a landslide in the 2001 general elections, lost by 199 votes in last year’s elections to his political opponent, House Speaker Benigno R. Fitial, 60.
Babauta had defeated Fitial in the gubernatorial race four years ago.