Beginning of 2015


There are issues of substance that are necessarily carry-over of recent past we seem to have ignored after one too many sunshine toasts.

Administrative laws: There’s “administrative procedure” the equivalence of laws crafted by bureaucrats in federal agencies whose drafts are implemented with finality nationwide—states and territories—none could reject.

In WSJ’s Review and Outlook section of Dec. 5, former Harvard law professor Laurence Tribe calls “administrative procedure” an “extralegal exertion” or “legal scavenging” prohibited by the U.S. Constitution. Legislating is an authority solely the purview of the U.S. Congress.

The net result is the abuse of statutory law, violating the Constitution’s Article I, Article II, the separation of powers, the Tenth and Fifth Amendments, and in general displaying contempt for the law. Tribe was Obama’s professor of law at Harvard. He must have spent too much time at the law review and missed the part about limited powers, according to the article.

He pointed out that federal agencies have even deferred to its interpretation of federal laws with impunity. For instance, EPA has gone ahead imposing self-generated administrative laws that Tribe views as representing “an attempt to seize lawmaking power that belongs to Congress.” He said, “There are genuine issues about the law and the democratic process at stake.”

What’s my point? Administrative procedure or laws were crafted by federal agencies, an extra legal exertion on legislative authority solely reserved for Congress. Moreover, it’s an issue that we must critically review in that it’s a perfect vehicle to dismantling the NMI’s rights to self-government.

Health matters: Alarming the increase in kidney failure, adult onset diabetes, serious heart issues and spike in various cancers especially among young folks. A lot of young people are using cigarettes wedged in betel nut to get high. This leads to oral and other internal cancer.

Type II diabetes is another serious long-term illness that eventually leads to kidney failure and dialysis. There’s genetics heart issues that must be addressed with a host of families who slide into it starting at age 50. One of the three or a combination of it is bad all the way around. It compromises healthy living and eats family savings one penny at a time.

Land alienation: We’ve heard on and off again discussions on Article 12 without clarity and finality. So the beast is back to haunt us some more. Let’s define and review the old land tenure system versus what Article 12 did to landownership.

The old land tenure system protects your rights to individual landownership. Article 12 took it away from you and handed it to the NMI government. Do you recall surrendering such rights?

The conflict isn’t the sale of land as much as the outright denial of your rights to landownership. It’s your right as the property owner. Why would others be telling us what’s good on an issue that is solely reserved to the landowner?

Saipan casino: This issue is now a matter of policy. Definitely, the law needs major overhaul to bring it home but this takes real political resolve and resolve seems a scarcity upstairs.

Two issues come into full view: 1.) CIP funds for the emplacement of requisite basic infrastructure like water, power, sewer and roads. 2.) The permitting process that includes land, immigration, environmental issues, among others. Use of public land over five hectares must be approved by the Legislature. Let’s see the NMDs handle this aspect of the so-called indigenous land.

Like it or not the NMI can’t survive under a single economy like tourism. Revenue from casino isn’t etched in stone either. Its wellbeing hinges on a lot of issues including competition from nearby casino hub like Macau. Keep your fingers crossed that it works here.

Military land needs: The military eyes use of land for its divert airfield and ground exercises up north. These are properties outside the technical agreement under the Covenant. It would involve negotiations focusing on how much land is needed on an additional basis and lease fees.

Both sides must follow specific provisions in the Covenant Agreement on additional land for military purposes. Definitely, the military isn’t ready to listen or engage disruptive groups who think they represent ALL landowners on its position. Not quite and I seriously doubt that it’s a representative view of “we the people.”

Revenue generation: Superficial political pride failed to shield the fiscal crisis at home. After all is said and done (inauguration), we’d be meeting somewhere nervously addressing the protracted progress of revenue generation that has gone south while needs skyrocket by leaps and bounds.

You could get certain data public or private source and use it to justify your views. Yet your intuition tells you an entirely different story or that nothing has improved in strides. It still is the same and is probably getting worse. How do you change this gut feeling being experienced by villagers?

Last fiscal year’s budget was a measly $135 million and it’s suspect that we would see anything in stride to bring it up to $150 million, if at all. Mirrored against a cumulative deficit of at least $4.8 billion, the prevailing revenue would slam into budgetary shortfall on every turn. The lack of anchor investments in the wings brings a fitting description of what lies ahead in William Faulkner’s Requiem for a Nun, “The past is never dead. It’s not even past.” Budgetary shortfall turns into thematic redundancy or the new normal.

As the storm of the economic vacuum strengthens we would see disillusioned villagers learning painfully late that the promise didn’t take them to the land filled with milk and honey. In fact, the long gestation period to perk up revenue generation is itself a major hurdle. Not discouraged either and ready to assist turn the gloom into boom where it is needed free of charge! Felis Noche Buena!

John S. Del Rosario Jr. | Contributing Author
John DelRosario Jr. is a former publisher of the Saipan Tribune and a former secretary of the Department of Public Lands.

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