Demapan says he is the underdog in this race

Rep. Angel A. Demapan claimed the title of “underdog” in yesterday’s filing of candidacies, saying that incumbent Delegate Gregorio Kilili C. Sablan’s claim that he (Sablan) is the underdog in this Nov. 6 general election is a “complete false statement.”

“[I am the] underdog. I’m running against a five-term congressman,” said Demapan yesterday morning, shortly after he filed his candidacy as a Republican Party candidate for the delegate’s position.

Demapan, 36, said all he has is the grassroots community and younger voters.

“I am not backed by prominent business people. I am backed by grassroots. I am backed by the new generation of voters,” he added.

In an interview last week during his filing of candidacy, Sablan said he considers himself an underdog as he is running against a popular political party this time.

Sablan said the Republican Party has the money and that he does not have the money.

But Demapan pointed out that a look at campaign finances shows that Sablan has raised more money than his (Demapan’s) campaign.

“So, really, money creates the underdog? Clearly, I am the underdog,” Demapan said.

The young lawmaker said one of the biggest factors in his decision to run for the delegate seat is driven by the people.

He said he is doing a lot of work in the House of Representatives and that he feels that can still continue to serve in the House. However, Demapan said, he received mounting support and encouragement from people to make a run for delegate.

He underscored the need to build a stronger and better relationship with the federal government.

“We need more benefits and be treated as all other Americans in America are treated and not be treated differently just because we are Americans living in a territory,” he said.

Demapan believes the Covenant that established CNMI’s political union with the U.S. should be upheld.

“And the very fact that the Covenant established the political union is just that—a political union,” said Demapan, adding that there is a need to fight for equal treatment and to fight for a more effective representation in Congress.

He noted that 10 years ago, CNMI was able to get a seat in Congress and that the Commonwealth had so much hopes for the future because the CNMI finally had a voice in Congress.

“But 10 years later, look at the situation. Thankfully President Trump signed the Workforce Act into law. But the question is, why did we wait for the 11th hour?” Demapan said. “Although we’re able to now breathe a sigh of relief, the fact of the matter is some businesses had closed because we talked too long, U.S. action took too long.”

Demapan said thousands of nonresident workers left the Commonwealth before the signing of the Workforce Act into law.

“The lateness in getting things done in Washington separated families here, affected businesses, affected our economy,” he said.

What concerns him, Demapan said, is every time CNMI loses a nonresident worker in a business, the Commonwealth also loses a resident worker.

“Because it affects the income, the delivery of goods and services. It is just not about our nonresident workers but it’s also our U.S. resident workers,” he said.

Demapan emphasized the importance to stabilize the economy and keep it going in order to protect both local and nonresident workers.

“Right now, thankfully the Workforce Act is now law. But all that means is we got 10 years,” he said.

Demapan said the delegate should take a pro-active approach in Congress and not be complacent so the CNMI will be prepared 10 years from now.

“We cannot just allow our representation to sit idle in Washington and then when it’s election time and an opponent is declared, the work begins. The work should have begun from day one in office,” Demapan added.

Ferdie De La Torre | Reporter
Ferdie Ponce de la Torre is a veteran journalist who has covered all news beats in the CNMI. Born in Lilo-an, Cebu City in the Philippines, De la Torre graduated from the University of Santo Tomas with a bachelor’s degree in journalism. He is a recipient of many commendations and awards, including the CNMI Judiciary’s prestigious Justice Award for his over 10 years of reporting on the judiciary’s proceedings and decisions. Contact him at ferdie_delatorre@saipantribune.com

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