Janet Maratita was sworn into the 17th House of Representatives yesterday in a packed House of Representatives chamber on Capital Hill.
According to Rep. Stanley M. Torres (Ind-Saipan), this marks the first time in CNMI history that three female members of the lower chamber will be serving at the same time.
Maratita (Ind-Saipan) joins Vice Speaker Felicidad Ogumoro (Cov-Saipan) and Teresita A. Santos (Ind-Rota) as women House lawmakers.
In an interview with the Saipan Tribune after her swearing in, Maratita said she will serve the House as an independent.
“I’m not going to align with anyone because I want to work with all of them. I’d rather be an independent,” she said.
House Speaker Eli D. Cabrera (Rep-Saipan) led everyone in welcoming the 45-year-old Maratita, who replaced the now-retired Diego Benavente as one of six representatives of Precinct 1.
Acting governor Eloy S. Inos said the Fitial administration is thrilled and grateful that Maratita was able to accept the appointment.
“We’re pleased that she accepted the appointment and we look forward to her working with the other members [of the House of Representatives] and help all of us address existing challenges that we’re facing.”
Inos said Maratita was a member of the 14th Legislature so this will not be a new territory for her.
“As I understand her quote [when I called her about her appointment] was ‘all I need is just a paper and a pencil’ and I’m ready to work. I’m glad to hear that,” he said.[B]Work with paddle and sail[/B]
Dressed in a fuchia dress with a lei around her neck, Maratita said she’s humbled and honored to be given the opportunity to serve once again be a voice at the House.
She pledged to work hard to “paddle and sail in this current rough waters and address the difficult challenges before us.”
Maratia, who served in the 14th Legislature, said she will promote revenue-generating measures that will help alleviate the islands’ ailing economy
One example of a revenue-generating bill Maratita said she would like to introduce is a bottle recycling bill she originally introduced in the 14th Legislature. It calls for a deposit on bottles so the material wouldn’t end up just being dumped in the Marpi landfill. Deposits of unredeemed bottles would go to government coffers, she said.
Maratita said her bottle recycling bill was passed by the House but it died at the Senate after she lost her re-election bid for the 15th Legislature.
Ogumoro said Maratita’s addition to the House is a milestone because it marks the first time that three women will be serving in the chamber. She said it is her hope that someday the House will be populated by 50 percent women.
Rep. Raymond Palacios (Cov-Saipan), for his part, said he is happy to once again be “classmates” with Maratita. Palacios and Maratita came from the same school.
Ray N. Yumul (Rep-Saipan), meanwhile, said she ran alongside Maratita under the green party—an obvious reference to the Covenant Party. He said Maratita will be an asset to the lower chamber because she “will cut to the chase and get things done.”
Rafael Demapan (Cov-Saipan) said he is already looking forward to Maratita’s promise of introducing revenue-generating bills because “it’s what we need right now.”
Maratita was accompanied at her swearing in by her sons John and Joshua Sablan, her daughter Janina, and mother Maria Ulloa Maratita. Her two other sons, Jake and Jason, are currently in the mainland.
It was the first time a swearing in to replace a member of the House was done ever since former speaker Jesus Pangelinan Mafnas was killed in the same plane crash that took the life of multi-millionaire Larry Hillblom in 1995.