What does Constitution Day mean to you?


“The framers who banded together to create the Covenant four decades ago displayed a faith in self-determination for our people that was unparalleled, and the people who helped in ratifying the Constitution we uphold are products of that same faith of the forefathers of the Commonwealth. On a day filled with faith and duty, we celebrate one of the most important documents of our islands, and in doing so, pledge to continue upholding it as the CNMI continues to move forward in this century. This is a day that history will forever be remembered as one of great magnitude for our islands. And as the vessel known as our Commonwealth continues to new horizons, we must not forget to always hold dear our Constitution, the symbolic embodiment of our traditions and hopes. From our families to yours, may all of you have a Happy Constitution Day!”
—Gov. Ralph DLG. Torres & Lt. Gov. Victor B. Hocog

“On Constitution Day we are reminded that the Commonwealth was founded on the Rule of Law, and that we should remember that the Constitution provides the key to our freedom and protects our individual rights as citizens of this great Commonwealth.”
—Edward Manibusan, Attorney General

“The CNMI Constitution is the bedrock of our legal system. It’s what allows us to be a Commonwealth of law. It’s what allows us to organize our political and legal systems. The United States and foreign countries can see, by the fact the CNMI is a constitutionally based republic, though not fully independent, that it is a stable society with the rule of law. The public defender looks to ensure that all criminal prosecutions comply with the protections, procedural and substantive, set forth in the Constitution, some of which are greater than those guarantees in the federal constitution. No law can stand or be enforced if it is in conflict with the constitution. It is the single most important document in the criminal justice system in ensuring that the rights of all residents, citizen or not, are not violated.”
—Douglas Hartig, Office of the Public Defender

“The road to the CNMI Constitution was a long and often tumultuous one…it treaded its way through post-war destruction, the Naval administration, decades of Trust Territory administration, the Congress of Micronesia and our eventual break away from that body to negotiate directly with the United States, and the serious internal debate in the Northern Marianas about our future political status. Our constitution provides a map for the structure of our government, defines its powers, and lays the foundation for our laws. It is also a memorialization of our rights and protections as citizens. The CNMI has come far in a few short decades. There have been and are sure to be continued growing pains along the way, but the beauty of the constitution is that it is a living document. We have the collective power to make changes to it as we see the need arises.”
—Robert Hunter, Secretary for the Department of Community & Cultural Affairs

“CNMI Constitution Day is an important holiday. It commemorates the day 40 years ago that the CNMI Constitution was signed by our people, forging a path forward for the newest Commonwealth of the United States. This holiday honors a significant document, one that all elected and appointed officials must swear to protect and defend. It’s critical that future generations remember the hard work and sacrifice that went into negotiating this document so that they can appreciate all that it offers them. This document protects indigenous rights to land ownership, which is arguably the most unique thing about our constitution because it provides something that not even the U.S. Constitution does. That makes the CNMI exceptional among U.S. territories and commonwealths.”
—Chris Concepcion, managing director, Marianas Visitors Authority

“The CNMI Constitution offers the people of the Commonwealth rights and protections that allow for the empowerment of women since there is still a lot of work to be done in terms of achieving parity. Parity is the belief that all men and women should have equal rights and opportunities. The rule of law allows us this ability to work toward a better Commonwealth and together we must do [our] part in educating ourselves and taking advantage of opportunities to achieve gender balance. Synergizing the activities of government and private organizations play a critical role in creating gender responsive work and employment environments conducive to women’s economic empowerment. With this, bridging the gap in economic opportunity between women and men is possible and will sustain fair gender sensitive governance.”
—Dolores Drew, Women’s Affairs Ofice

“Constitution Day reminds us of the importance of civility in a democratic society. As an indigenous person, the words…of our traditions in the preamble clearly encourages me to adopt and promote traditional awareness for our indigenous population and the rest of the Commonwealth. Furthermore, the Office of Indigenous Affairs strongly believes in advocating and protecting the rights of the indigenous population pursuant to the Constitution of the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands. I hope in the future, a ceremony to commemorate this special day may become part of promoting community awareness.”
—Roman Tudela Jr., Indigenous Affairs Office

“Constitution Day means two things to me: faith and freedom. Faith, in the religion we were brought up in, and faith of the forefathers who entrusted us to determine our future by providing a set of laws for us to follow and a set of rules for us to defend and honor in order to guide us forward. It also means freedom. It was a choice we made and one that we continue to carry out to this day. The constitution means a lot to public information and protocol since our office helps in regulating official etiquette within the Commonwealth. It is the document we swear to uphold, just like our honorable governor and lieutenant governor. It represents everything that we do, and how we conduct ourselves.”
—Luis John Castro, public information specialist

“The foundation of every state is the education of its youth. Through Article XV of the CNMI Constitution, the state guarantees every person a right to free public education. Having this constitutional right has given millions of children the opportunity to have the best quality and meaningful educational opportunities in the CNMI. Let us celebrate our Constitution and continue to talk about matters that will help protect, support and guide students in assessing areas of interest and ability, in clarifying values and goals, and in providing students with clear and accurate information so they may gain the most from their educational experience.”
—Shelane Borja, Youth Affairs Office

“Personally, the CNMI is so fortunate to have been granted the same human rights, privileges, and protection (in our waters from foreign invasion) as American citizens (with the exception of voting for the President of the United States). The framers of the Covenant envisioned membership for the people of the CNMI within the government of the United States for the sole purpose of political, economic, and personal liberties. For their vision and determination, I will always be grateful.”
—Alfreda Camacho, Commonwealth Office on Transit Authority

Saipan Tribune

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