Castro: On the table are issues larger than casino

Ex-Guam senator says CNMI has set the standard throughout the nation in dealing with pandemic

Former Guam senator William “Wil” Mendiola Castro, who is Gov. Ralph DLG Torres’ newly appointed chief of staff, said Friday that, as Torres rolls out his vision and strategic plan going forward, on the table are issues much larger than the casino.

Some of those issues pertain to economic development, economic sustainability, and the ability to survive notwithstanding any one industry, said Castro, who emphasized the importance of building a diverse economy for the CNMI that’s resilient.

Speaking at a radio press briefing last Friday, Castro also stated that the Commonwealth has set the standard throughout the nation in dealing with COVID-19 pandemic. “That’s not a secret. It’s not something in Guam we’re ashamed of. It is something we’d fully embrace that [Gov.] Ralph DLG Torres really set the bar when it comes to dealing with the pandemic. Just open the papers and look at it,” Castro said.

He said Torres’ and the CNMI’s progressive track record is an opportunity for him to be a part of that. “You…are writing a new chapter of history and I look forward to being a small part of that,” he said.

The other reason why he came on board is because the Torres-Palacios’ administration has a proven record in dealing with adversity and in systems under duress, Castro said.

Castro said his priority as chief of staff is the priority of the state and, to translate that loosely, it’s the priority of the governor who is the chief executive of this Commonwealth. He said he was excited when Torres called and conveyed to him his tremendous vision for the Commonwealth.

“And I was in awe. …I cannot even grasp the magnitude of what’s in front of the people of the Commonwealth,” Castro said.

He said Torres’ vision that he’s going to be rolling out and articulating with stakeholders to include the policymakers in the Legislature is the opportunity of a lifetime to chart the CNMI’s own course.

“So that’s my priority—to serve the governor well, faithfully, and with integrity and to translate the priorities of the Commonwealth into an actionable plan. That’s my job and serve the Commonwealth, to serve the people above all else,” Castro said.

Torres said Castro is no stranger to the CNMI as he had served as director of Institutional Effectiveness at the Northern Marianas College where he oversaw the successful lifting of NMC’s show cause status and reaffirmed its accreditation.

Castro is a former senator in the 34th and 35th Guam Legislature. He has extensive public service experience with Government of Guam, having served as director of the Bureau of Statistics and Plans, the central planning authority of Guam, and as a Cabinet official and senior adviser to then-governor Eddie Calvo. He also served on several national, regional, and territorial policy and planning bodies relative to oceans, fisheries, coastal and coral matters.

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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