GOP to appoint territories advisory committee

Gov. Ralph DLG Torres, fourth right, leads the delegation of the CNMI Republican Party in the Republican National Convention held last week at the Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, Ohio. (Contributed Photo)

Gov. Ralph DLG Torres, fourth right, leads the delegation of the CNMI Republican Party in the Republican National Convention held last week at the Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, Ohio. (Contributed Photo)

The Republican Party will be appointing an advisory committee consisting of representatives from the five U.S. territories. This was among those included and unanimously adopted in their party platform in the recently concluded Republican National Convention at the Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, Ohio.

Businessman-turned-reality-show-star Donald Trump and Indiana Gov. Mike Pence were nominated to lead the GOP’s bid to retake the White House against the Democrat’s presumptive nominees Hillary Clinton and Virginia Sen. Tim Kaine.

The Democratic National Convention started yesterday (U.S. time) at the Wells Fargo Center and Pennsylvania Convention Center in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

In a document provided by press secretary and CNMI Republican Party spokesperson Ivan Blanco, the advisory committee will join the transition team if the GOP’s Trump-Pence ticket wins in this year’s hotly contested presidential elections on Nov. 8.

“We call for the appointment of a commonwealth and territories advisory committee consisting of representatives from all five U.S. territories—American Samoa, CNMI, Guam, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands,” according to the adopted resolution by the national GOP.

“The committee will be integrated into the president’s transition team and be tasked with performing a holistic review of all federal regulations affecting the territories and commonwealths.”

The advisory committee is separate from the planned appointment of the Special Assistant to the President, who would be the direct representative of the territories to the White House.

“We further call for the appointment of a Special Assistant to the President responsible for day-to-day interaction with the territories and commonwealths. This position will be the direct connection for the Office of Insular Affairs, the citizens of the territories and commonwealths, and the White House.”

Territories’ concerns

The Republican Party has also recognized the challenges faced by all U.S. territories as they need to catch up with the ever changing economic landscape to move forward and earn gains. The GOP suggests that territories need to strengthen their existing industries and develop new ones.

“[GOP] recognizes the challenges facing all U.S. territories in an era of dramatic global economic change. They [Territories] need venture capital to retain existing industries and develop new ones.”

Dependence on public employment would be reduced on a stronger private sector that could also lead to self-sufficiency, the resolution added. “[The territories’] development and local energy options will be crucial to reduce dependence on costly imported fuel.”

Territories’ economic stability

The Republican resolution also wanted all territories to have stable economies that would benefit all of its citizens. “The territories’ economic stability and potential for growth must be considered in any trade agreements between the U.S. and other Pacific nations.”

The GOP would like all territories to be exempted form laws that would increase costs for its citizens like the minimum wage and the Merchant Marine Act of 1920 or the Jones Act, which regulates maritime commerce in U.S. waters and U.S. ports.

The Republican Party said they wanted all unreasonable obstacles and U.S. customs practices to be removed that would beneficial to the five U.S. territories.

“Territories such as American Samoa should be able to properly develop their resources, including fishing, when jobs and the economy depend on it.”

NMI participation

Gov. Ralph DLG Torres led the CNMI delegation to the RNC where all nine delegates of the Commonwealth were secured by Trump, who unanimously won the caucus held on Saipan last March.

CNMI Republican Party president and Department of Public Works Secretary James Ada, Rota Mayor Efraim Atalig, Sen. Jude Hofschneier (R-Tinian), Budget Office director and GOP committeewoman Virginia Villagomez joined Torres and Blanco in the convention.

Committeeman Bo Palacios, Rep. Angel Demapan (R-Saipan), John “Liling” Reyes, and alternate delegates Diego C. Blanco, Rep. John Paul Sablan (R-Saipan), Robert J. O’Connor, and Anthony A. Camacho were the other members of the CNMI delegation, which is among the smallest.

Blanco said Torres was pleased that the CNMI had the chance to participate in the important event. “In fact, he was [even] invited by Trump to sit in his VIP box. Not all governors were invited so it goes to show how Trump recognizes even the smallest delegates.”

Blanco added the RNC ended on a positive note after the GOP included the territories in the party platform. “The CNMI Republican Party is pleased that our language, favorable to the CNMI, was included and adopted unanimously by the national party.”

Torres, in a statement, said though he continues to address local issues, he also makes sure the CNMI’s concerns are heard at the national level. “Many of our issues are unique to our islands and often, decisions on the national level inadvertently affect our environment, our economy, and our rights under our Covenant.”

Jon Perez | Reporter
Jon Perez began his writing career as a sports reporter in the Philippines where he has covered local and international events. He became a news writer when he joined media network ABS-CBN. He joined the weekly DAWN, University of the East’s student newspaper, while in college.

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