Atalig intends to call DFEMS chief to testify at trial


Rota Mayor Efraim M. Atalig intends to call Department of Fire and Emergency Medical Services Commissioner Dennis James C. Mendiola to testify at trial in the case against him (Atalig) and his girlfriend in federal court.

Atalig, through counsel David G. Banes, requested the U.S. District Court for the NMI to determine prior to the trial whether Mendiola has a valid basis for asserting the Fifth Amendment privilege if he is called to testify at trial.

Fifth Amendment protects individuals from being forced to incriminate themselves.

Mendiola used to serve as Rota DFEMS deputy commissioner. He was among the eight Rota officials, including Mayor Atalig, that the Office of the Attorney General charged with misconduct in public office before the Superior Court.

The OAG, however, dropped the case against Mendiola. The Superior Court granted the motion and the OAG can no longer re-file the charge against him.

The Superior Court case was filed over an alleged Republican rally in Guam in June 2018 that Atalig and others allegedly attended in the guise of a legitimate government trip.

In Atalig’s motion for pretrial determination filed yesterday, Banes said Mendiola was one of the participants in the trip taken by the mayor and Rota resident directors to Guam in June 2018 (DRMO trip), which is one of the trips charged in this federal court case.

DRMO refers to a U.S. Department of Defense Office formerly known as the Defense Reutilization and Marketing Office, but is now called DLA Disposition Services.

Banes said Mendiola has “extremely relevant” information regarding efforts made to obtain access to the DRMO for the whole group while they were in Guam.

Banes said that if subpoenaed to testify in Atalig’s case in federal court, Mendiola may assert his Fifth Amendment privilege, although he may not have a valid basis for doing so.

Mendiola is not charged in Atalig’s case in federal court.
The trial will be on Aug. 4, 2020.

Ferdie De La Torre | Reporter
Ferdie Ponce de la Torre is a senior reporter of Saipan Tribune. He has a bachelor’s degree in journalism and has covered all news beats in the CNMI. He is a recipient of the CNMI Supreme Court Justice Award. Contact him at

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