It seems that the CNMI electorate is being drifted down river without a paddle once again. Our AG referenced the CNMI Constitution as his position when advising the governor of the appointment of the person who ranked third in the last senatorial election from the election district where the vacancy existed. In this case, the AG steadfastly urged that he is not required to issue an opinion because the CNMI Constitution makes it clear who and when the appointment of the person should take effect and lasting until the end of the term of the person which vacated such elected office. Here the AG is saying that because the remaining term of office is less than one year, the appointment is not subject to special election. Thus, for as long as the majority of the time term served by the incumbent elected official is more than three years, it meets the constitutional test and standards.
In the case of the forfeiture of office of the Governor Office’s, where majority of the term of office not served by the late governor is greater than year but less than three years, the CNMI Constitution does not apply. It is also the AG’s position that nothing applies of Section 7 of Article lll of the CNMI Constitution except the first sentence. The acting governor or lieutenant governor who is temporarily performing the governor office is not subject to the full test and standard established by the CNMI Constitution concerning time term of office served, or, time term of office not served. It seems that the elected AG engages arbitrarily consistent opinion on this, and the electorates should just give up and dismiss the matter with a blind eye. Or, does it matter that we question the elected AG to produce what theory he applied and pegged stereotype he hooked on that handcuffed the truth to this? Three years of time term of office not served is a lot of time for the CNMI people to endure without a legitimate elected Governor. One year remaining in the term of office of the governor office is tolerable and efficiency is served under that condition.
The elected AG failed to consistently apply the constitutional test and standard on our most recent case involving the election of governor and appointment of a person to fill the remaining term of office of a person elevated to the lieutenant governor office. Sad that our elected AG finds it appropriate to apply what is constitutional to one, and erroneously opined on another vacancy as special situation where the meeting of constitutional test and standards may apply. What is very obvious here is the windfall that one received with such error in advise and judgment by the elected AG. In one case, the person who expected an expiry time term of office until 2017 ended being preserved to term office until 2019 as the non-elected person to the lieutenant governor office. On the other case, a person who just covered and served only one year of actual service to the CNMI people as a lieutenant governor would have enormous windfall for a time term of three years in office for which he was not elected as the legitimate governor for the CNMI people.
Why is the third sentence of Section 7 of Article lll of the CNMI Constitution so brutal and fearful? Does it matter that an “acting governor” or “lieutenant governor” who assumes office when more than a year remains in the term may serve only until a governor or lieutenant governor is chosen in a special election provided by law? For as long as the OAG and elected AG are not explaining this part of the CNMI Constitution as to its applicability on the forfeiture of office caused by the death of our late governor, the CNMI Constitution is being violated. There ought to be a greater than good reason that makes this important aspect of our constitutional desires excusable by someone or no one.
Francisco R. Agulto