CUC: No law applies to us

Utilities board questions establishing law, honorarium rates

ROTA—The board of directors of the Commonwealth Utilities Corp. raised questions regarding their establishing laws specifically for their honorarium and the authority of the Commonwealth Public Utilities Commission over the corporation during a board meeting held on Rota last Friday.

The board declined to state why there was a concern regarding the honorarium that they are receiving as directors, however, on one of their discussions, board chair Adelina Roberto raised a question to legal counsel James Sirok based on a provision in their enabling act that states how CUC shall set its compensation, wage and salary.

“The corporation shall make its own compensation, wage, and salary scale. When it said own compensation, does that include the board?” Roberto asked Sirok.

Sirok answered that the particular provision was only for employees, however Roberto said they should look further into the law.

“That’s the reason why I think we should look into this and dissect this and just…because it doesn’t say just wages and salary scale. Our wage and salary scale, I see that with our own employees, but our compensation,” Roberto said.

Based on CUC’s enabling act, “board members shall receive such compensation as required by law.”

“You only get compensated for the honorarium and travel as policy of the executive branch,” Sirok said, “There is a law and the law only allows you to receive honorarium.”

When Roberto asked if the law specifically say how much the compensation should be, Sirok said yes.

“That’s the law that spells out $30 days for half day, $60 days for full days,” Sirok said.

Despite this, board members were not satisfied with Sirok’s answer.

Director Joe Torres went further to state that “there’s no law that applies” to the CUC board.

“They are not citing which law that we are… Because, when they abolished the board back then, everything went…there’s no law for the board, right?” Torres said.

“Do you think they should cite what law we should be based on? Because there’s no law that applies to us,” he added.

Just last November, the Office of the Public Auditor found that CUC is not in compliance with the law and its established policies with regards to travel.

OPA’s preliminary results of their initial survey raised five points of violation including the board adopting travel rules that are inconsistent with the law. OPA, in their communication with CUC, stated that CUC’s enabling statute provides that the travel rules and per diem rates for Board members shall be the same as those established by the Executive Branch.

CPUC authority
On an earlier discussion, Roberto made the same statement on bringing their concerns to the Legislature.

CUC board members were discussing the levelized energy adjustment clause, when they shifted to the authority of CPUC itself.

“There is provision in our enabling statute that says we’re under the authority of PUC,” Sirok said.

Frauleine S. Villanueva-Dizon | Reporter
Frauleine Michelle S. Villanueva was a broadcast news producer in the Philippines before moving to the CNMI to pursue becoming a print journalist. She is interested in weather and environmental reporting but is an all-around writer. She graduated cum laude from the University of Santo Tomas with a degree in Journalism and was a sportswriter in the student publication.

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