Sen. Teresita A. Santos (Ind-Rota) has asked the Department of Lands that, prior to any revocation of homestead permits, they should conduct thorough reviews to determine the applicability of public laws pertaining to waiver of homestead requirements.
In her letter to acting DPL secretary Sixto K. Igisomar, Santos said this review could potentially include conducting additional lot inspections and retrieving homesteaders’ records of expenditures related to their homestead.
“If found in compliance with all relevant laws, we hope that our homesteaders receive their deeds from DPL at the earliest possible chance,” she said.
The senator suggested that the director of the Division of Homestead be sent to Rota to work in collaboration with the Rota DPL District Office director to asses, mitigate, and resolve the issues that have been plaguing both the island’s village and agricultural permittees for the last several years.
Santos noted that they have homesteaders that have been given their deeds but their names on the deeds have been misspelled and have yet to be corrected even after several unsuccessful attempts.
The senator is hoping that such minor oversights can be remedied as soon as possible.
Santos said that back in October 2020, she wrote to Igisomar’s predecessor, Marianne Concepcion-Teregeyo, concerning numerous calls from concerned residents pertaining to the implementation of public laws amending the waiver of homestead requirements that were enacted during the 17th and 20th CNMI Legislature, specifically Public Laws 17-04 and 17-37, as amended by P.L. 20-05.
Santos said the amended law states that DPL “shall waive any requirements or policy requiring village homesteader(s) to rebuild a second residential dwelling house upon showing by any homesteader(s) that his/her completed residential dwelling structure was destroyed or severely damaged by typhoon, tsunami or other natural or man-made disasters.”
The law also states that DPL “shall waive the requirements or policy of completing a single family residential dwelling structure upon showing reasonable justification that the homesteader continues to maintain the assigned lot in conformance with the [DPL] requirements, or upon the homesteader providing to the department that the building permit required under 2CMC subsection 7131 is denied because the homestead area lacks water, power, or sewage system infrastructure.”
The senator said the CNMI, as a whole, has suffered through unprecedented back-to-back natural disasters followed by the COVID-19 pandemic that has affected everyone globally.
She said the CNMI’s economy is still struggling to recover from previous disasters as it continues to rapidly decline in light of the pandemic.
Santos said the Legislature introduced legislation to amend the “Deeds of Conveyance” and “The Waiver of Homestead Requirements” because they empathized and understood the hardship that the people are dealing with.
“Today, more than ever, we need to ensure that these laws are adhered to and uniformly applied to all homesteaders in the CNMI,” she added.