CNMI donates 50K test kits, PPEs to FSM, RMI


Gov. Ralph DLG Torres gestures as he talks with, from left, CNMI’s COVID-19 Task Force chair Warren Villagomez, Rep. Angel A. Demapan (R-Saipan), and governor’s authorized representative for COVID-19 Patrick Guerrero, yesterday morning at the Homeland Security’s warehouse in San Antonio, where COVID-19 testing kits and personal protective equipment are stored. The CNMI will donate and ship 50,000 testing kits and PPEs, as seen in the background, to the Federated States of Micronesia and Republic of the Marshall Islands this weekend. (FERDIE DE LA TORRE)

The CNMI government has prepared 50,000 COVID-19 test kits, as well as personal protective equipment such as gowns, gloves, face masks, and hand sanitizers, that will be donated and shipped this weekend to the Federated States of Micronesia and Republic of the Marshall Islands.

The 50,000 testing kits and PPEs, which are being stored and prepared for sendoff at the Homeland Security’s warehouse in San Antonio, are divided equally—at 25,000 each—to FSM and RMI.

Gov. Ralph DLG Torres, along with some government officials, checked the items in the Homeland Security warehouse yesterday morning.

Torres told the media that when he heard about the increasing number of COVID-19 cases in FSM, he reached out to FSM President David Panuelo, who was then in Guam, and offered the CNMI’s assistance, sayin he (Torres) knows what it’s like to have the first surge.

“Unfortunately, our brothers and sisters from FSM have their first outbreak. And we’re one family,” the governor said.

The latest news release from the FSM government states that there are currently 21 deaths in FSM attributable to and/or associated with COVID-19.

The governor said that during Super Typhoon Yutu, FSM contributed $200,000 to the CNMI’s recovery and also sent their people to assist the Commonwealth Utilities Corp. in repairing the islands’ power and water supply.

“So you can never repay that. Now that they are going through with the first phase [of COVID-19], we know how much help goes a long way,” he said.

The governor said they know what supplies are needed.

Torres said he told Panuelo that they are going to send stuff that FSM will need for their brothers and sisters in FSM and that if there’s any additional request, they are here to support that.

He said the same thing about the RMI, saying he spoke with RMI President David Kabua and offered the same assistance.

Torres thanked COVID-19 Task Force chair Warren Villagomez and the CNMI Homeland Security for not just only maintaining the supplies in the warehouse, but acting expeditiously in providing what they are able to send to FSM and RMI.

“We’re also looking what is the fastest way to send it out, whether it’s via air or cargo,” he said.

Gov. Ralph DLG Torres, sixth from left, poses with some lawmakers, government officials, and Homeland Security officials and personnel, in front of several boxes containing 50,000 testing kits and personal protective equipment inside the Homeland Security’s warehouse in San Antonio yesterday morning. The items will be donated and shipped this weekend to the Federated States of Micronesia and the Republic of the Marshall Islands. (FERDIE DE LA TORRE)

Villagomez said that both FSM and RMI need at this moment PPEs and other healthcare equipment, but they are also making sure that they have stocks on hand such as latex gloves, face shields, face masks, as well as N95, in the event that the CNMI get into another spike.

“But more so, [we are] preparing our region to make sure that, to anyone in need, we’re readily available to assist,” he said.

Villagomez said they have ample test kits on island that they continue to use at this time.

He said with the CNMI’s donation, they want to make sure that FSM and RMI go out and test their community and start stabilizing and neutralizing the infection.

Patrick Guerrero, who is the Governor’s Authorized Representative for COVID-19, said they maintained the supplies since the beginning of the pandemic and have continued to keep them stocked and readily available for the CNMI. Guerrero said they also received support from the Federal Emergency Management Agency in terms of supplies.

“So we have more than ample supply. But even if we didn’t, I think our brothers and sisters [in FSM and RMI] are in need,” he said.

Guerrero said when the CNMI was in need, it received help from all over the Pacific. “It’s our time to give back to communities that are experiencing this first surge,” he said.

Guerrero said they will be delivering the items to Pohnpei and Majuro. “Pohnpei would then distribute it out to other states—Chuuk, Kosrae, and Yap, to whoever needs it,” he said.

Guerrero said they identified some priority items like test kits and some PPEs that they will bring via air. “But we’re looking also at possibly doing…more community drives for other needed supplies,” he said.

Guerrero said there is also a possibility they’re going to work with the FSM and RMI governments and that they might even charter a plane.“The quickest way to get it. …You can’t put a cost to saving lives, so whatever that cost is, we hope maybe all three governments would come together and see which are the much-needed items, and costs maybe will be a non-issue at this time,” he said.

Guerrero said test kits alone cost close to $250,000 in value for each jurisdiction.

Rep. Angel A. Demapan (R-Saipan) thanked Torres for reaching out to Panuelo and Kabua to offer this assistance.

“There’s a saying out there in Micronesia that the ocean doesn’t divide us, it unites us,” said Demapan, adding that CNM is a member jurisdiction of the Micronesia Island Forum. “So this is one way for us to really take advantage of what it means to be a unified Micronesian region,” the lawmaker said.

Demapan said that when super typhoons Soudelor and Yutu came through the islands, these communities from Micronesia sent people here to help out.

“The CNMI is home to many Micronesians. And we want to show our token of appreciation for the contribution that their community members have made on our islands by giving back to their jurisdictions,” he said.

Rep. Roy Ada (R-Saipan) extended his appreciation to partner agencies to include the Department of Public Safety and Department of Fire and Emergency Medical Services who stand ready to assist in this trying time for the CNMI’s neighbors in Micronesia.

“So we’ll be here ready to assist them on what they may need,” Ada said.

Rep. Joseph Lee Pan Guerrero (R-Saipan) said the donation is a small amount, but a welcome one. “We’re very fortunate to have all these, but they don’t have these. We need to assist our brothers and sisters in this Blue Continent. …I think this is a start,” Guerrero said.

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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