A bill allocating over $900,000 to the Commonwealth Cancer Association was signed into law during the Marianas March Against Cancer event last Friday in a surprise move for the community.
It was learned that MMAC co-chairs Bobby Cruz and Carline Sablan worked with Gov. Ralph DLG Torres to keep the signing of House Bill 20-29 a secret until the opening ceremony for the 16th Annual Marianas March Against Cancer at the Hopwood Middle School field.
Public Law 20-58, formerly known as H.B. 20-29 that was authored by Rep. Angel Demapan (R-Saipan), allocates $931,340 to the cancer association.
According to Torres, the allocation will form a special account to support oral cancer awareness and prevention. A total of $150,000 will go to the Commonwealth Healthcare Corp.’s dental clinic program, $350,000 will go to the Commonwealth Cancer Association, $50,000 will fund inter-island travel for Rota and Tinian patients, $50,000 will go into the CHCC betel nut program, and more.
“I, too, lost my best friend—two of them actually, a few years ago and it does matter. Survivors, you are our hope. You give us the strength to move forward…we need to fight this together and I cannot thank the Legislature enough for making this as a priority for all of us,” Torres said.
Cruz encourages the community to look at the signing of the bill as more than a political gain but a means to battle cancer.
“Cancer is not a political issue, it’s…a human issue…this is not about the party that you represent, it’s not about the fact that it’s campaign season, it’s really about the community…it’s about the statistic that one in every two individuals is going to get cancer in their lifetime…this is our issue as one CNMI,” he said. “It’s really about the fact that they’re allocating this amazing amount of money to be able to help folks who are battling cancer.”
Sablan said it takes the entire CNMI to fight cancer.
“We really need to be successful in this effort,” she said.
The funding will go to helping the 161 cancer patients that CCA currently assist. According to a previous Saipan Tribune article, in 2016 to 2017 alone, the association saw a 65-percent increase in the number of cancer patients in the CNMI.
The CCA offers assistance through donations and fundraisers. It does not offer actual cancer treatment, but they provide food vouchers and fund amenities needed by cancer patients such as wheelchairs, beds, etc.