CEC board certifies 99 candidates

Alfredo Taimanao found qualified to run for Rota mayor

Commonwealth Election Commission board chair Jesus I. Sablan presides over a board meeting at the CEC conference room in Susupe Friday. Also in the photo, clockwise, are deputy attorney general Lillian A. Tenorio, CEC executive director Kayla S. Igitol, CEC commissioner John Diego Attao, Sablan, assistant attorney general Clark Dela Cruz, vice chair Esther A. Yatar, commissioner Lelanie I. Manglona, and commissioner Jesus S. Cepeda. The board certified the six gubernatorial candidates and 93 other candidates for the Nov. 8 general election. (FERDIE DE LA TORRE)

Commonwealth Election Commission board chair Jesus I. Sablan and CEC executive director Kayla S. Igitol signed Friday a resolution certifying the six gubernatorial candidates and 93 other candidates for meeting the requirement of law to be placed on the ballot for the Nov. 8 general election.

During the CEC board meeting at CEC conference room in Susupe, the board also found that Alfredo Taisacan Taimanao, a U.S. Army veteran, is qualified to run for Rota mayor.

Sablan said during their Aug. 22 meeting, the board also determined that Edwin Raymond Quitugua does not qualify to seek election for a seat in the Saipan Municipal Council for failing to meet the required 100 signatures to support his candidacy.

The board likewise approved the ballot layout for the election.

The board certified the candidacies of Gov. Ralph DLG Torres and his running mate, Sen. Vinnie F. Sablan (R-Saipan); Lt. Gov. Arnold I. Palacios and his running mate, Saipan Mayor David M. Apatang; and Rep. Christina Marie E. Sablan (D-Saipan) and her running mate, Rep. Leila Haveia F. Staffler (D-Saipan).

Torres and Sablan are running for governor and lieutenant governor, respectively, under the Republican Party.

Palacios and Apatang are competing for governor and lieutenant governor, respectively, under a unified independent team.

Sablan and Staffler are the Democratic Party’s bets for governor and lieutenant governor, respectively.

The board also certified the 93 other candidates who are running for various elected positions, for meeting the requirements of law.

During Friday’s meeting, CEC executive director Kayla S. Igitol recommended to approve the nominating petition of Taimanao, who is running for Rota mayor as an independent.

Deputy attorney general Lillian Ada Tenorio, counsel for Igitol at the hearing, submitted her proposed order in Taimanao’s case. Although Taimanao did not submit a proposed order, the board did not require him to do so.

Chair Sablan announced his finding that Taimanao has met the residency requirement and therefore qualified to run. He cited the testimony of Taimanao and his wife, and the documents presented during the Aug. 22 hearing.

Sablan said after Taimanao retired from the U.S. military, he worked for U.S. Postal Service in Guam and did retire from the postal service in 2021.

Sablan said it was presented to the board that Taimanao had resided in Guam in 2012 but there’s no record of him ever voting in Guam.

Sablan said Taimanao testified under oath that he built a house on Rota and that it was probably done in 2013.

Sablan said Taimanao was paying Commonwealth Utilities Corp. utility billings and that he never rented his house on Rota to anybody as he and his wife would go back and forth periodically to Guam and Rota.

“A lot of people were thinking that [under the law] you have to be at that resident 24/7 in three years and that is not the case,” the chairman pointed out.

The four other commissioners present did not argue. All five commissioners later unanimously accepted and approved Taimanao’s nominating petition.

With respect to Quitugua’s appeal, Sablan in an interview said it was decided during the Aug. 22 meeting that he did not qualify because he did not meet the 100 required signatures on his petition.

Sablan said Quitugua has only presented 79 qualified signatures as they found that 18 are duplicate signatories.

He said there was no hearing because it was clear that there was no issue for him to argue.

“We did not take action on the other concern, which is the residency,” the chairman said.

Quitugua appealed CEC’s challenge on the issue of his residency. The hearing was set for last Aug. 22, but he failed to appear and requested for an extension as he was in the hospital at that time.

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 ferdie_delatorre@Saipantribune.com

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