IN LAWSUIT ALLEGING ILLEGAL TYPHOON YUTU OT PAY
Ex-DLNR chief, OAG reach settlement
Former Department of Land and Natural Resources secretary Anthony Benavente has reached a settlement with Attorney General Edward Manibusan in the illegal overtime lawsuit the Office of the Attorney General earlier filed against the former secretary.
Benavente, through his lawyer, Robert T. Torres, and Manibusan, through OAG Chief Solicitor Robert Glass Jr., have filed a stipulation agreeing on a settlement outside of court proceedings in the illegal overtime suit filed by the OAG in 2022.
Pursuant to the stipulation, the parties agreed that the court shall enter a partial judgment against Benavente in the sum of $6,198.43 as settlements for the claims of illegal overtime compensation accrued for Typhoon Yutu-related work in 2018 and 2019.
“The stipulation is for the purpose of achieving partial resolution of the claims alleged by Manibusan in the complaint filed in this action,” states the stipulation.
According to the parties, Benavente, who is currently unemployed, shall pay at least $100 per month on the first of each month starting this month, to the CNMI Treasury.
As for the causes of actions as to excessive compensation/excessive salary, the parties have reserved the matter for separate disposition.
“The parties anticipate requesting the court to rule upon this dispute through stipulated motion for partial summary judgment in as much as the parties anticipate undisputed facts and/or documents for the court’s resolution and determination. The parties will discuss the matter further with the court at the upcoming status conference,” the parties stated.
According to the complaint against Benavente, Manibusan alleges that the former DLNR secretary received over $30,000 in typhoon premium pay that he should not have been entitled to.
As relief, Manibusan asked the court to issue a judgment of $36,198.43 for recovery of the allegedly unlawful typhoon premium payments, overtime payments, or extra payments not authorized by law.
Aside from returning the money, the AG also asked that the court issue a declaratory judgment declaring that the personnel regulations authorizing payment of typhoon emergency premium pay, overtime, and extra pay do not apply to gubernatorial appointees; that the director of Personnel and governor lack the authority to authorize additional compensation except as provided by law; and that compensation in excess of the salary ceiling cannot be authorized except as provided by law.
According to the lawsuit, Benavente accrued over $36,000 in total OT compensation, causing his salary to go beyond the statutory limit of $54,000, which is against the law.
The lawsuit said that Benavente received typhoon premium pay in the total gross amount of $6,198.43 back in 2018 for Yutu-related work done that year, while at least $30,000 has been paid since May 17, 2022.