OAG says govt should be given time to formulate payment plans
The heirs of Maria Mangabao have asked the Superior Court to command the Finance Department to pay the $18.7 million court judgment entered in 2008 as compensation over the taking of their land in Chalan Kanoa in 1993.
The Office of the Attorney General, however wants the CNMI government to be given more time to formulate further plans for payment. Assistant attorney general Charles E. Brasington said the Commonwealth does not have $18 million sitting in its bank accounts.
The Mangabao intervenors/heirs, through counsels Edward C. Arriola and Michael W. Dotts, said the government has not paid a cent since 2008. They said the total amount of judgment now stands at $18,701,553.818, as of Dec. 28, 2016.
The lawyers said each day until Jan 3, 2017 is an additional $2,732.896 and that commencing Jan. 4, 2017,the amount of judgment increases by $2,886.758 each and every day thereafter until Jan. 3, 2018.
Arriola and Dotts cited that last Dec. 28, the CNMI Supreme Court held that in the context of eminent domain, the Commonwealth courts have the authority to compel the government to pay outstanding land compensation judgments even in the absence of money set aside by the Legislature.
Arriola and Dotts said Finance is duty bound by law to pay the Mangabao heirs.
Brasington said the Mangabao estate stands to receive a substantial sum that has been recently appropriated.
“The Legislature is finally moving to right a historic wrong, namely its complete failure for over a decade to appropriate any significant amount for the payment of judgments,” Brasington said.
However, Brasington added, the Mangabao estate is not the only judgment creditor of the CNMI, and the Commonwealth cannot pay everyone at once.
Given the need for finding creative solutions and in the interests of working toward a mutually agreeable solution, Brasington said the court should hold the motion in abeyance an order a status conference at the parties’ earliest convenience.
According to court records, the CNMI and the Mangabao heirs agreed to the taking of land consisting of 6,000 square meters in 1993 and a judgment of $4.2 million.