AG yet to act on land compensation law

The Office of the Attorney General has yet to act on a formal request to enforce a Saipan local law that mandates the distribution of $800,000 to more than 200 Saipan families whose private properties were taken by the government for roads and other public uses.

Rep. Ramon A. Tebuteb (Ind-Saipan) has written newly elected Attorney General Edward Manibusan to push for the implementation of Saipan Local Law 18-19.

Tebuteb, in his letter dated Feb. 18, is asking the attorney general to compel the Department of Public Lands to disburse the funds to landowners.

Manibusan, through one of his staff, said he has yet to read Tebuteb’s letter.

The funds would be coming from “landing fees” that are generated from tourists visiting Managaha Island, a prime tourist spot in the CNMI.

But the payments have been delayed for some years now because questions about the law itself have risen, including questions on whether these Managaha landing fees are considered “land leases” or “fees,” and whether they could be used to pay for land compensations.

Tebuteb, however, said SLL 18-19 “remains a valid CNMI law,” because there is no court decision saying otherwise.

The $800,000 land compensation payments will come from $1 million in landing fees that the government, through the Department of Public Lands, currently holds.

Since September 2014, the Inos administration has long been considering going the route of a certified question to get legal guidelines for pending judgments or obligations such as land compensation. But that certified question has yet to be submitted.

Public Lands earlier said that if the courts opine that SLL 18-19 is constitutional, it will proceed to make payments to land claimants.

Joel D. Pinaroc | Reporter
Joel Pinaroc worked for a number of newspapers in the Philippines before joining the editorial team of Saipan Tribune. His published articles include stories on information technology, travel and lifestyle, and motoring, among others. Contact him at joel_pinaroc@saipantribune.com.

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