‘CNMI still in pandemic, world still on lockdown’


The CNMI is still in a pandemic and the whole world is still basically on lockdown.

That appears simple enough to understand, according to Gov. Ralph DLG Torres, who said he does not understand why some Democratic representatives are concerned about his year-long state of emergency due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Speaking at a radio news briefing last Friday, Torres said he wants to say “as politely as he can” that he does these monthly declarations because the CNMI is still in a pandemic and he believes that everyone in the CNMI understands that “we’re still in pandemic.”

“Unless things changed yesterday or last week, we still don’t have tourism coming in. The whole world is still basically on lockdown,” he pointed out in response to Rep. Sheila Babauta’s (D-Saipan) concern about the yearlong state of emergency.

The governor said that, although there’s some movements with tourism, the CNMI is still in a pandemic. He said this state of emergency allows Finance Secretary David DLG Atalig to do what he needs to do to work with governor’s authorized representative Patrick Guerrero to work with the COVID-19 Task Force to make sure that people in the CNMI continue to be safe.

“We’ve been doing this since January, February [in 2020]. It is the reason why we’re safe,” said Torres, adding that he does not understand Babauta’s concerns.

Torres reiterated his appeal to the Legislature to come up instead with revenue-generating bills to help address unemployment.

“What can they do as a Legislature to help with the unemployment? Come up with creative approach. How can they help farmers? How can they help fishers” The ranchers?” he said.

Torres said he will continue to do what he needs to do to protect the community 100% against COVID-19. “So again we need to move forward. And I hope that they can exhaust their time and their effort in bringing back normalcy,” he said.

As for Rep. Tina Sablan’s (D-Saipan) concern about the constitutionality of the emergency declaration, Torres again referred back to the statement that the CNMI is in a pandemic. “We haven’t seen any of this pandemic in our life before. What’s their concern? What constitutionality?” Torres asked.

The governor said his executive orders and the approaches that they’ve been doing in protect the Commonwealth since Day 1 are guided by Attorney General Edward Manibusan.

“Where were they when this pandemic started and we were giving our undivided attention and decision to protecting 100% of our people here?” he asked.

The governor said the 100% effort that they made back in January 2020 in coming up with decisions came from experts that were brought in through the Commonwealth Healthcare Corp. He said CHCC chief executive officer Esther Muña has been there, along with COVID-19 Task Force chief Warren Villagomez, governor’s authorized representative Patrick Guerrero, and Finance Secretary David DLG Atalig.

“We did everything we can so we continue to do what we need to do to protect our Commonwealth,” said Torres as he appealed to lawmakers to exhaust their energies in coming up with new ideas to protect and help the community. “That’s where I stand and I’ll continue to do what I need to do to safeguard our community,” the governor 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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