Former Community and Cultural Affairs secretary Melvin Faisao has lost his claim of being an heir of the Rita Rogolifoi estate, which was awarded $2.7 million plus interest for land compensation in 2009.
Superior Court Associate Judge Joseph N. Camacho has ruled that Faisao is not a descendant of Rita Rogolofoi’s children and therefore has no right to her property or a share in the estate.
Camacho said that Faisao has failed to prove that Pedro Rogolifoi was the original owner of the land in As Mahetog or that Pedro Rogolifoi is the father of Macaria Rogolifoi Faisao.
Camacho also ruled that Melvin Faisao has failed to prove that Rita Rogolifoi and Macaria Faisao are biological or adopted sisters.
Melvin Faisao alleges that he is the grandson of Macaria Rogolifoi Faisao. He further alleges that Macaria Faisao is the biological sister of the descendent, Rita Rogolifoi, through Rita Rogolifoi’s father, Pedro Rogolifoi.
Melvin Faisao also contends that the property in Rita Rogolifoi’s estate originally belonged to Pedro Rogolifoi and was held in trust in Rita Rogolifoi’s name for Pedro Rogolofoi’s family, including Macaria Faisao and her descendants, according to Carolinian custom.
As a descendent of Macaria Faisao, he claims entitlement to a share of the property and proceeds from the property.
Clarence “Bud” White, the administrator for the Rita Rogolifoi estate, denies Melvin Faisao’s allegations that Macaria Faisao and Rita Rogolifoi were biological half-sisters.
White also asserts that Rita Rogolifoi, not Pedro Rogolifoi, originally owned the property.
In denying Melvin’s claims of heirship, Camacho said the property was originally cleared and claimed by Rita Rogolifoi.
Camacho said the property is held under Carolinian custom and passes to Rita Rogolifoi’s children and their descendants, according to that custom.
Charles P. Reyes Jr. served as counsel for Melvin Faisao, but he later withdrew and Melvin Faisao pursued the case without a lawyer.
Stephen J. Nutting represented White, while Joaquin Torres served as counsel for the heirs of Pedro Rogolifoi.
Camacho held hearings on Melvin Faisao’s motion to determine heirship under Carolinian customary law in June 2017.
Rita Rogolifoi estate had received from the CNMI government $700,000 in February 2017 as advance payment.
With the agreement of the parties appearing at the hearing last year, Camacho authorized a partial distribution in the amount of $100,000 from the funds received as a part of a land compensation claim with the government.