The economy remains a key issue for Rota and Tinian senators and they hope the current development Saipan is experiencing would trickle down to their respective jurisdictions.
This much was a focal point in the organizational sessions the Senate and House of Representatives did last Monday on Capital Hill.
Sen. Paul A. Manglona, Senate Vice President Steve K Mesngon, and Teresita A. Santos represent Rota, while floor leader Francisco M. Borja and Sens. Francisco Q. Cruz and Jude U. Hofschneider are their counterparts on Tinian and Aguiguan. Everyone, except Manglona, are GOP members.
Sen. Paul A. Manglona (Ind-Saipan) thanked his constituents—whether in Sinapalo and Songsong villages, Saipan and Guam, and from Hawaii to the U.S. mainland—for sharing their concerns.
“I have met many of you whose stories and challenges I will never forget. You shared with me your concerns about families moving away from Rota because jobs are hard to find and off-island college students are having a tough time making ends meet,” said Manglona.
Other issues that Manglona want to work on with his colleagues are Rota’s sick residents not affording healthcare, medical referral’s lack of funds, the youth being introduced to drugs and alcohol, the high cost of basic goods and other commodities, the lack of basic infrastructure, and other hardships of the island’s retirees.
“We have a lot of work ahead of us. I am looking forward to doing that work with each and everyone of you. My colleagues, we may not always agree on everything but we need to work together for a prosperous future of our Commonwealth and its people,” he added.
Mesngon, one of the seven Republican senators in the Senate, shared the same sentiments and hopes to address issues that concern the youth, retirees, and the man’amko (elderly).
“Education, medical referral, and the retirees’ pension are among the important issues that need our attention,” said Mesngon. “And with a growing economy, we hope the people of the Marianas would reap its benefits. We’re going to work in order to get funding for education and our schools, and the medical referral program.”
Santos hopes the 20th Legislature will focus on jobs creation to stem the exodus of people from Rota. “More than 3,000 left home nearly 10 years ago. It was a forced relocation, knowing the scarcity of opportunities.”
Borja, who won his re-election bid, said Tinian’s economy would also be at the center of their agenda.
Tinian was hit hard by the closure of Tinian Dynasty Hotel & Casino but things are looking brighter with projects by investors Alter City Group and Bridge Investment Group.
Cruz said the Senate must work on legislation that would improve the principles and functions of the three branches of government. “It is also paramount that within this foundation it will enable us to better the lives of the people in our community, improve public services that we ought to provided, and better the state of the Commonwealth.”
He added that emphasis should also be on fulfilling the government’s obligations. “Obligations with the Settlement Fund to prolong its life expectancy by securing the finances of all retirees and beneficiaries.”
Hofschneider said the Senate should continue to work in improving the lives of people, this time by diversifying the economy. “In the 19th Senate, we made many strides in steering the CNMI on the right track to economic improvement. These accomplishments are reflected in healthier business activity in the last four years.”
“We must be sustainable as we progress and we can achieve this by diversifying our economy. We must not put all our eggs in one basket, but rather seek to expand our focus.”
Beneficial to all
Senate President Arnold I. Palacios (R-Saipan) said all members of the 20th Legislature want what is best for all. “We have our work cut out for us. I believe that I speak for all when I say that we all want what is best for the community and for our children.”
“That is what motivated those who were here in the 18th Legislature to allow casino gaming on Saipan. The challenge now is to ensure that development of this industry works in the best interest of all,” said Palacios.
“Not too long ago, Saipan’s garment factories exported the most polo shirts than any country in the world with revenues at an all-time high. Today, you will not find a single garment factory and not one shirt stitched and exported from Saipan.”
Palacios said that they should enact laws that would protect the future. “We must enact laws and policies that…not only meet[s] the demands of the present but does so without compromising the ability of our future generations to meet their needs.”
Sen. Sixto K. Igisomar (R-Saipan) said they must keep their focus to do what is good for the community. “We must continue to support common sense driven leadership to create policies that would improve public infrastructure and fulfill the government’s financial obligations. I am for economic expansion but we must first become sufficient and efficient.”
Sen. Justo S. Quitugua (Ind-Saipan) said “we must continue the good working relationship with the executive and judicial branches of government.”
“And along with business and other community leaders, we can accomplish more through cooperation. We must remain committed to invest in education and infrastructure as well as fulfilling our obligations to our retirees.”