Babauta-Sablan camp aims to work with casino


Former governor Juan N. Babauta, right, and ex-CNMI Public School System commissioner Dr. Rita A. Sablan, third left, join Sen. Paul Manglona (Ind-Rota), left, after former House speaker Heinz S. Hofschneider announced his senatorial candidacy last Monday at Babauta’s house in Gualo Rai. (Jon Perez)

The camp of former governor Juan N. Babauta has expressed a willingness to work with the casino-hotel if ever their ticket wins this year’s general elections—provided that Imperial Pacific Resort officials follow CNMI and federal laws.

Babauta is again seeking the gubernatorial post with former Education commissioner Dr. Rita A. Sablan as his running mate for lieutenant governor. They are going up against the GOP ticket of Gov. Ralph DLG Torres and Senate President Arnold I. Palacios (R-Saipan).

Although he says he is against any form of gambling, Babauta said he is willing to live with it and make sure the investor and the entire CNMI benefit from it. “Twice the people said no in a referendum, but overnight the Legislature got together after a short trip to Macau and came back with a written legislation and overnight passed it that authorized a casino industry on Saipan.”

“Now that we have bitten the forbidden fruit, we have an agreement and have to live with that. Dr. Sablan and the rest of the team, if you put us in, we’re going to work with the casino and see to it that it will work [and] we’re not going to let this skeleton facility be abandoned. We’re going to work with the casino industry and we’ll see to it that it is successful.”

He added that this is his and Sablan’s commitment if they are elected to office. “We’re going to work with them on a very fundamental agreement that follow CNMI and federal laws and [if] they are going to stick to their commitment, we’re going to be happy to work with them and see to it they succeed.”

Sablan added: “They must follow the rules and laws of the land, there must be no exemption.”

If the casino does succeed, Sablan said that that will open more opportunities for foreign investors. “There’s that opportunity” and the entire CNMI would benefit.

“We have to make sure that, like everyone is saying, the 65 percent that are really struggling, that we address it as well.”

She added that it is the people of the CNMI who would benefit from these investors. “We must be mindful what it is that they are bringing in to benefit our children. What it is that they are bringing in so that the women here would not be shunned down but also given an opportunity to participate. That’s what we are looking for.”

Jon Perez | Reporter
Jon Perez began his writing career as a sports reporter in the Philippines where he has covered local and international events. He became a news writer when he joined media network ABS-CBN. He joined the weekly DAWN, University of the East’s student newspaper, while in college.

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