Many have heard the phrase “robbing Peter to pay Paul,” which is what is happening to Rota in the recent decision to give Saipan and Tinian $13 million but not a penny for Rota. I submit that Rota’s decline in the number of citizens was the prime factor that drove this decision because the small voting numbers will have very little effect on who will actually run and have the power in the CNMI. To put it in simple terms, it’s the ugly unchecked power politics of the CNMI.
Rota was only asking for $3.846 of every hundred dollars that Saipan and Tinian will split from the $13 million. The Legislature should be ashamed to be so greedy simply because they have a GOP supermajority of the power and even the former independent politicians are joining just so they can win. Greed is a deadly sin especially when it is wrapped in power. I’m sure anyone with common sense and objective and fair mind will see how greed is really showing its ugly face with this truly unfair treatment of Rota. It is easy to see why Rota is suffering so much from the lack of funding due to its shortage of political real estate. But I truly believe that one day the true reality about Rota will emerge as Rota is the true gateway to the CNMI. The Chamorro culture was and still may be the strongest on Rota, Rota is situated closer to Guam and the majority of tourist to the Marianas, Rota’s lifestyle is more representative of the archaic island lifestyle that many tourists want to experience. Many tourist would actually prefer islands like Rota and Tinian over the island of Saipan and Guam, which are now full of traffic and even traffic jams. But Rota does not have the infrastructure to get tourists, nor the basic food commodities and other supplies to the island—if only Rota could get a little real help with their tourism as Rota should get a lot more than they are asking! Furthermore, saying that Rota gets some funding from MVA does not mean they are getting enough as they need all they can get to improve the quality of life and to improve their tourism industry.
Given that the split of the $13 million is pure politics, I am wondering why the senators from Rota and Tinian didn’t stick together as they have in the past to make sure they got their fair share. Asking Rota to wait is like asking them to wait for progress and everyone knows that Rota needs the help the most! It reminds me of how people with disabilities were once put at the end of the priority line until there was a great awakening as to how ugly our society had been treating people with disabilities. Well, there needs to be an awakening for Rota as it is common knowledge that Rota is truly facing desperate times with far more hardship than Saipan or Tinian. If this was a critical budget issue and there was a shortage of funds I could understand it but this is about dividing up extra money.
Walking out on what was clearly a political ambush was just one way of protesting and making a statement as we might not have heard about it until it was over if the senator hadn’t walked out. But it also means he lives to fight another day for bringing attention to this issue. Anyway, taking from Rota to give to Saipan and Tinian who are better off is just not right. I hope the Senate will take heed when it comes to dividing money between the islands of the CNMI. I think most citizens always want our leaders to do the right thing.
Ambrose M. Bennett