‘CUC should sue CHCC to collect over $27M debt’


The Commonwealth Utilities Corp. should go to court to compel the Commonwealth Health Care Corp. to finally do something about the over $27 million it now owes the utility agency, according to acting board chair Weston Deleon Guerrero.

In a board meeting last Friday, Deleon Guerrero said that CUC should take court action against CHCC and have the court decide on CHCC’s failure to pay its utilities debt, which has now ballooned to over $27 million.

The subject came up after CUC executive director Gary P. Camacho discussed at the meeting CHCC’s failure to pay its $400,000 a month bill. Deleon Guerrero said the court should intervene and decide on the matter as it is the only avenue for CUC to collect the money.

“Let’s take it to the court and have it decide,” he said.

Deleon Guerrero, however, did not raise a motion before the board to sue CHCC.

In a separate interview, Deleon Guerrero said he did not make a motion to file a court action as he is only serving in an acting capacity in the absence of board chair Miranda V. Manglona.

Deleon Guerrero said he had already stated his position publicly—that a lawsuit should be filed. “I would have made the motion now, but the chairwoman is not here.” He said Manglona and the full board should be at the meeting in order to make that decision.

Deleon Guerrero underscored the need to file a lawsuit, citing that CUC did approach CHCC about the billing matter, estimated at now over $27 million.

“It’s not them asking us for a meeting to say, ‘Hey, can we pay our bill?’ We are the ones approaching them, saying ‘Hey, we really need you to pay your bill,’” he said.

Deleon Guerrero pointed out that CHCC has already come up with a rate schedule to make sure that they are able to pay their physicians and staff. CHCC states in that rate schedule that they’ve put in a utility rate as part of their overall rate, he added.

Deleon Guerrero said he is assuming that CHCC did include utilities when they changed their rate schedule, that they have already accounted for their CUC billing in their hospital rates.

Deleon Guerrero said it’s CHCC’s discretion on how it would spend the money collected that is supposed to be used to pay for utilities.

It makes no sense to him that CHCC added its utilities expenses to its rate equation, yet it does not give the money that it is collecting to CUC.

Deleon Guerrero said they have gone back and forth with CHCC, which always admit that they owe CUC.

“It’s not enough to just admit they owe the money. They need to say ‘yes,” they owe the money but they also have to act on it, which is the most important thing, which is to pay the money,” he said.

Deleon Guerrero said CHCC just can’t just say, ‘Well, I’m sorry, this is what it is. This is only what we can pay.’

Deleon Guerrero said CUC cannot go to Mobil Oil Marianas and just apologize, telling the company that they failed to collect money from CHCC, the Commonwealth Ports Authority, or from the central government.

Last April, CUC executive director Camacho said that, according to CHCC, it can only afford to pay $71,000 a month at this time because of other obligations.

Camacho said it is his understanding that CHCC has not made payment, “not even the $71,000.”

Camacho underscored the need to be creative to work something out to collect the receivables or debts.

Last March, CUC reported that CHCC owes the utilities agency $27.4 million. Last April, the debt reached $27.7 million.

Ferdie De La Torre | Reporter
Ferdie Ponce de la Torre is a senior reporter of Saipan Tribune. He has a bachelor’s degree in journalism and has covered all news beats in the CNMI. He is a recipient of the CNMI Supreme Court Justice Award. Contact him at ferdie_delatorre@Saipantribune.com

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