‘Out-of-court talks on unremitted $5M land lease payments’


Settlement negotiations between the Marianas Public Land Trust and the Department of Public Lands are ongoing to resolve MPLT claims that DPL has yet to remit between $4 million and $5 million to it.

According to MPLT board chair Martin Ada, this out-of-court approach is an “alternative option” for MPLT.

MPLT has been running after the Department of Public Lands for non-remittance of millions of dollars in public land lease payments and earnings. On a few occasions, the MPLT board went to court after failing to obtain a satisfactory response from DPL.

However, under Ada’s leadership, the MPLT has opted to settle the matter with DPL in out-of-court talks. Ada reiterated this stance on Friday, confirming that settlement talks are ongoing and resolution is forthcoming as soon as an audit on DPL is completed.

Ada said that in a previous meeting with Gov. Eloy S. Inos and the DPL administration, MPLT was asked to wait for the completion of the DPL audit for fiscal year 2013 before negotiations resume on the matter.

“The governor had requested that we wait until end of this month [June 30] because the DPL audit is forthcoming. So from there, we will then go back to the negotiating table. That’s the gentlemen’s agreement [between parties],” he told Saipan Tribune.

When asked how much MPLT expects to collect from DPL, Ada said, “The number is around $4 million up to $5 million. That’s what we’re working on.”

According to Ada, there’s no other good way to resolve the issue with DPL other than to settle the issue amicably. He said it’s unseemly for sister agencies to battle in court for something that can be resolved amicably by all parties.

Ada has appointed vice chair Maria Frica Pangelinan as the point of contact for all DPL issues. On Friday, Pangelinan submitted a report but this was not made available to the media.

MPLT trustees initially agreed in previous board meetings to take legal action against DPL for continuing to withhold remittances to the land trust.

Based on MPLT’s analysis, the amount due MPLT as of Sept. 30, 2012, is $3.441 million plus $2 million reservation of “Fund Balance.” This brings the total due MPLT to $5.441 million as of Sept. 30, 2012.

In addition to this balance, it was reported that there were funds that should have gone to MPLT but were diverted to expenditures that do not qualify as “expenses of administration.”

Moneth G. Deposa | Reporter

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