Babauta is new Precinct 1 rep

Babauta says he is ready to serve

Ex-Department of Public Safety official Franklin Reyes Babauta was appointed yesterday to represent Election District 1 in the CNMI House of Representatives.

Gov. Ralph DLG Torres made the appointment after House Speaker Blas Jonathan T. Attao (R-Saipan) declared a vacancy when Edwin K. Propst resigned as Precinct 1 representative last Oct. 1.

“I appreciate your willingness to serve in this important role of providing representation for the people of Election District 1,” the governor told Babauta in his appointment letter.

Babauta will serve the remaining term of Propst, which means until Jan. 11, 2021.

In a later interview, Babauta said he is happy with the appointment as he has been waiting for it because he is ready to serve the community. “We have to do what we have to do. And that’s to serve the community again,” he said.

Torres said his office received the communication from Attao last Oct. 26 that declared the vacancy caused by Propst’s resignation.

Under Article II, Section 9 of the CNMI Constitution, when a vacancy arises and less than one-half of the term remains, “the governor shall fill the vacancy by appointing the unsuccessful candidate for the office in the last election who received the largest number of votes and is willing to serve.”

Franklin Reyes Babauta

As less than one-half of the current legislative term remains, and Babauta is the unsuccessful candidate with the most number of votes, and has expressed a willingness to serve, Torres said he is appointing him with immediate effect as representative for Election District 1 House of Representatives of the 21st NMI Legislature. Precinct 1 covers San Vicente, Dandan, parts of Fina Sisu, Koblerville, San Antonio, As Lito, parts of As Perdido, Chalan Piao, Afetnas, and As Gonno.

Babauta, who said this opportunity gives him a chance to serve the community, was at the Veterans Day ceremony at the American Memorial Park when Attao saw him and handed him the appointment letter.

Babauta said he’s been waiting for this appointment and that finally he got it yesterday, Veterans Day. “We are grateful on Veterans Day as this is the day we honor our veterans. They are the ones who really gave us our freedom,” he said.

Babauta, who ran as an independent candidate, landed in seventh place in the 2018 election for Precinct 1, where there were six House positions.

Babauta retired from DPS in August 2006, with the rank of deputy commissioner for administration.

He retired from the U.S. Army in 2015 with a rank of lieutenant colonel. His last tour of duty was with the security forces advisory team in Afghanistan. Babauta was one of the lieutenant colonels there in “Operation Enduring Freedom” in southern Afghanistan.

He had a couple of experiences commanding troops in both wartime and in peacetime missions.

He commanded the Echo Company here at the Army Reserve when they went to Iraq in 2005 and 2006.

In 2007, Babauta moved to Guam and joined the Guam Army National Guard. He was then deployed to Afghanistan. Babauta commanded the battalion embedded training team in the eastern part Afghanistan.

Babauta then went back to Guam where he then commanded the Guam Army National Guard Element for almost three years.

Babauta’s wife, Celina, just won a House Precinct 1 position at the Nov. 3 general elections. She was the second top vote-getter behind Propst, based on the Commonwealth Election Commission’s unofficial tabulation results.

Last Thursday, new House minority leader Rep. Christina Sablan (D-Saipan) and the four other minority bloc members urged Torres to follow the law by appointing Babauta immediately to replace Propst.

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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