A revered figure in CNMI history passed away early yesterday morning at the Commonwealth Health Center after succumbing to old age and other complications.
Considered the second and fifth governor of the CNMI, Pedro “Teno” P. Tenorio, the only governor to date to have held the gubernatorial position for three terms (1982 to 1986, 1986 to 1990, and 1998 to 2002), passed away at 2:35am at CHC. He was 84.
Gov. Ralph DLG Torres described Tenorio as a “true statesman,” even before the establishment of the CNMI.
“His leadership qualities represented the people he served as he worked tirelessly to provide a strong foundation for our young Commonwealth. Heading into the new millennium, he addressed the government’s dismal financial condition, reduced the deficit, and generated surpluses during his third term as governor. He oversaw the largest number of visitor arrivals to our islands and the peak of our Japanese tourism market. He improved our relationship with the federal government by seeking cooperation to help fix the Commonwealth’s labor and immigration. He also advocated for increased federal grant money to improve our islands’ infrastructure for the future, and it is represented everyday when we walk into the Governor Pedro P. Tenorio Multi-Purpose Center, a structure named in honor of him,” Torres said in a statement.
Torres directed both CNMI and federal flags to be flown at half-staff in Tenorio’s memory until the day of his interment.
Torres said he had the opportunity to visit Tenorio just before his passing.
“[First lady] Diann and I visited [former] governor Teno just before his passing, and we are very saddened by a big loss for our islands. But we are very thankful for all the work he has done for the Commonwealth. I sincerely thank him for all his dedication at the very beginning of our Commonwealth, and we continue to support programs he began. He will not be forgotten,” he said.
In a statement, Saipan Mayor David M. Apatang described Tenorio as a “staunch public servant” who accomplished vast achievements.
“His tenure as governor of the CNMI established foundations upon which our current day successes sprang and continue to do so,” he said. “He worked hard and ensured the CNMI stayed the course toward self-sufficiency and a competitor in the Asia-Pacific global economy. We will miss him dearly and will always thank him for the vision he charted for the Commonwealth,” Apatang said. “We will always remember you in our prayers.”
Rep. Angel A. Demapan (R-Saipan), in a statement, extended his condolences to Tenorio’s wife, Sophia, and son, Perry, and Perry’s wife, Judge Teresa Kim-Tenorio.
“Governor Teno, as he was fondly known, contributed immensely to the formative years of our Commonwealth…He will be dearly missed,” he said. “As we remember the work and legacy of an honorable statesman, a grateful Commonwealth remembers.”
Tenorio served as a member of the Congress of Micronesia House of Representatives during the Trust Territory days of the CNMI before later serving the 1st CNMI Legislature as a senator representing Saipan from 1978 to 1980. He was also Senate vice president and Senate Programs Committee chairman for the 1st CNMI Legislature.
From 1980 to 1982, Tenorio served his second term as a Saipan senator for the 2nd CNMI Legislature as Senate president, before being sworn into the chief executive position for the CNMI in 1982.
Tenorio was re-elected for the gubernatorial position in 1985 before being elected for a third term as CNMI governor in 1997.
Tenorio is the fourth eldest of eight children to the late Blas P. Tenorio and the late Guadalupe S. Pangelinan. Tenorio is survived by siblings Cecilia, Juan, and Ramona; children Peter Michael, Ruth, Patrick James, Paul Gilbert, Perry John, Reina Sophia, Roslyn, and Rebecca; and wife Sophia.
A daily memorial Mass would be conducted at 6am at the Mount Carmel Cathedral.