The Senate Committee on Executive Appointments and Government Investigation resumed its public hearings at 1:30pm Monday at the Senate chamber on Capital Hill. The hearing allows members of the community to voice their support or opposition to some of the appointees of Gov. Ralph DLG Torres.
Monday’s hearing was for Pedro R. Deleon Guerrero for his appointment as a member of the Marianas Public Lands Trust board. Last week, the committee entertained public comments for Roman M. Tudela Jr. and Donald M. Hofschneider.
Tudela Jr. is being appointed as director of the Indigenous Affairs Office while Hofschneider is nominated as a member of the Commonwealth Election Commission.
Committee chair Sen. Francisco Q. Cruz (R-Tinian) said they plan to finish the public hearings so they could make a report to the Senate before the session today. Sen. Justo S. Quitugua (Ind-Saipan) is the vice chair with Sens. Sixto K. Igisomar (R-Saipan), Steve K. Mesngon (R-Rota), Arnold I. Palacios (R-Saipan), and Teresita Santos (R-Rota) as members.
“The public hearings give members of the community the opportunity to testify on some of the appointees by the governor. Whether or not they support. We’re going to base our findings on the information that we gathered and what was given to the committee according to the rules of the Senate,” said Cruz.
“It is important to have different views on the appointees. We want to see if there are people who would oppose or support the governor’s appointees and we take into consideration their comments. We compare what the public said, whether they oppose or support, and that is one of the determining factor,” added Cruz.
All nominees or appointed by the governor must submit to the committee, with the whole Senate voting to confirm or not.
Cruz said that based in last week’s public comments he sees no reason why Tudela and Hofschneider would not get past the committee level. “We’ve done the whole process and I see nothing wrong since the governor and public supports them.”
Santos, on the other hand, said the issue of releasing the absentee ballots was one of their concerns in the last Senate session. Hofschneider is appointed as Tinian’s representative to the CEC.
“We ask that the [CEC] executive director and commissioners to meet immediately and address the matter so the absentee ballots are released and returned in time on Nov. 8 to be counted. Our constitution is clear on the right of our citizens to vote shall not be denied or abridged,” said Santos.
She added that there is also House Bill 19-204 that is pending where it would allow extending the deadline and procedure for absentee ballots in next month’s election.
“Perhaps such legislation could address the issue or predicament we face concerning the delay of releasing the absentee ballots and allowing time for these absentee ballots to be received. This is considering the time for these ballots to be received in the U.S., Hawaii, Guam and time of returning these ballots to Saipan,” said Santos.