The second commission that will examine the political union between the United States and the Commonwealth for the first time met yesterday and elected its officials.
The second Marianas Political Status Commission officially met for the first time yesterday. The nine-member commission is composed of chair Pete P. Reyes, vice chair Frank Rabauliman, secretary Rosemond B. Santos, members Elizabeth D. Rechebei and John O. Gonzales representing Saipan; Richard Lazaro representing Tinian; and Fermin Atalig and Aubry M. Hocog representing Rota.
Senate President Arnold I. Palacios (R-Saipan) and House Speaker Rafael S. Demapan are ex-officio non-voting members.
The supposedly ninth voting member, Kimberly Hinds representing Tinian, withdrew her nomination.
The commission was created after former representative Felicidad Ogumoro’s House Bill 19-02 was enacted into law as Public Law 19-63 in late August 2016.
Ogumoro said last Wednesday that the commission was organized to assess the CNMI’s relationship to the U.S.
“[The commission] would be meeting with people and, from that meeting, [the commission] would know what priorities…need to be addressed,” she said, adding that the commission would also come up with recommendations based on their meetings.
“We should always assess whatever we are doing. It is a very important issue,” said Ogumoro, referring to the CNMI’s relationship with the U.S.
“Why do we have to prolong [this]? It is always good to come to the table and assess [matters],” she said, adding that she is admittedly dissatisfied with the relationship between the U.S. and the CNMI.
“…But let the people speak. Let the people come together and state their concerns. From that, we…formulate a plan for action.”
According to P.L. 19-63, the commission has the responsibility to examine the political relationship of the NMI and the U.S. and determine whether the people of the CNMI are still in favor of being in a political union with the U.S.
The commission would also examine actions taken by the U.S. that contradict and violate the provisions and spirit of the Covenant,” whether based off of the U.S.’ interpretation on enhancing provisions of the Covenant, whether such positions require the people of the NMI to carefully study and reconsider the political ties.
The commission would submit its recommendations, if any, of alternative political status options that benefit the NMI and would submit its final report to the CNMI Legislature for review and approval prior to submission to the Commonwealth Election Commission, who would then present the political status options to qualified voters.
The first Marianas Political Status Commission was formed back in 1972 and came up with the Covenant in 1976, which officially made the CNMI a self-governing U.S. territory.