U.S. District Court for the NMI designated judge Frances M. Tydingco-Gatewood ordered the Settlement Fund trustee yesterday to examine a request of a member of the NMI Retirement Fund who only recently asked to terminate his Fund membership as he was then preparing for deployment to Afghanistan with the Guam Army National Guard in 2013.
Tydingco-Gatewood directed trustee Joyce Tang to determine whether there is any basis for Ivan Igitol terminating his Defined Benefit membership in the Fund. Tang was given up to Aug. 6, 2014, to update the court of Igitol’s status.
Tydingco-Gatewood said that when originally given the opportunity to terminate through Public Law 17-82, Igitol was preparing for deployment to Afghanistan with the Guam Army National Guard.
“Needless to say, he had more important things to do,” the judge said.
In his letter to the judge, Igitol said that, on May 23, 2014, after returning from deployment and completing the Yellow Ribbon Reintegration Programs, he wrote Fund administrator Lillian Pangelinan, seeking for help in terminating his Define Benefit membership in the Fund.
Igitol said that Pangelinan unfortunately responded with regrets.
He said that, according to Pangelinan, a fairness hearing was held on Sept. 30, 2013, at the U.S. District Court for the NMI in which pleadings from other Defined Benefit members were heard.
Igitol said he was not present to be heard because he was on deployment “defending our country.”
Igitol said that prior to his actual deployment in February 2013, he attended vigorous monthly weekend drills approximately 16 to 26 days each month in October and November 2012 and in January and February 2013.
He said the pre-deployment itself was tedious and stressful as it involved administrative actions, briefings, physical trainings, counseling, and health assessment, which gave him little room to make a sound decision on what to do with little knowledge on what was happening with the DB plan and the enactment of Public Law 17-82.
“It was only much clearer what transpired and took place on the DB issues upon my return home when my focus was no longer on the deployment and had more time to gather information, documents, and personally seek assistance from the NMI Retirement Fund and the authors/sponsors of both public laws,” Igitol said.