The arrest of former DPS Commissioner James C. Deleon Guerrero over the weekend, coming on the heels of the recent prison sentencing of previous DPS commissioner Ambrosio Ogumoro, was truly shocking to everyone in the CNMI. It basically re-affirmed our long-standing suspicion that the leadership at the CNMI Department of Public Safety, for many years now, leaves a lot to be desired. Over the past decade or so, this and previous administrations have been appointing individuals to head our key law enforcement agency, based primarily on political affiliation and loyalty, not on integrity and competency. Until this and subsequent administrations begin appointing qualified individuals with the integrity, background and necessary credentials for the office that they are appointed to, we will continue to see more of the same, to the detriment of the safety of the people whom these public officials are supposed to serve.
Yes, this will continue to happen because many of the heads of the various departments and agencies are not qualified for the position they are holding. Part of the reason for this is the absence of any real vetting process. Before any head of any department or agency is appointed to serve, the individual must be thoroughly vetted by, say, an independent vetting board. This vetting board, or something similar, should thoroughly interview the potential appointee and conduct a thorough background check on the appointee.
Another reason is the absence of any true confirmation hearing by the CNMI Senate whenever, in their zeal to please the administration, in effect confirms an appointee before conducting a hearing, i.e. the confirmation hearing is held only for show.
The people of the CNMI deserve no less than qualified individuals serving them. The executive and legislative branches of the CNMI government should never take lightly their duties and responsibilities, whenever they make such important appointments to head our various departments and agencies. Party loyalty and affiliation should be the last thing to consider for such appointments; integrity and competency should be the top two requirements for holding such executive offices. After all, the safety of our people, the health of our people, and their general welfare and well-being should always be paramount.
Jose S. Dela Cruz