Gubernatorial succession process


Discussing on the gubernatorial succession relative to our constitution was in no way meant to embarrass anyone but instead call for adherence to our constitution, applicable laws, openness, free discussion by our constituents and friends and neighbors, as well as, transparency in our government. It is working. I meet people at the supermarkets, CCHC, CUC, restaurants, fast-food outlets, gas stations, courthouse, etc., and they ask me how’s my concern about the special election, among other ideas.

I would respond that I haven’t seen any overt action on any of them. I am concerned due to my previous legal experience with Andon Amaraich, Joe P.Mafnas, and Mike M. Sablan as a TTPI trial assistant, and now paralegal, as well as a former police officer, and my political science breadth studies. You see, the concept of a government by, for, and of the people, is all too often set aside when opportunities present themselves. If our system of separation of powers, checks and balances, and of accountability within our government breaks down, it is up to us, the constituents—the reasons for the existence of our government—who must rise up and speak our minds.

In 1945, we were introduced to the American democratic, elective form of government, based on the American Constitution and all its political history, theories, philosophies, etc., by the military administration. It was patterned after the American form of government and we’ve been following that governmental format since then. And if there is a diversion from the adopted format, we would question that diversion. Just recently, then, our acting governor and acting lieutenant governor have diverted their demeanors and have sidetracked our constitution, the supreme law of our CNMI, the very law which acting governor Torres and lieutenant governor Hocog are to enforce. Both officials prefer to take the advice of a handful of opinionated people, who chose to usurp the rights of the people to vote and, thus, subverted the provisions of the constitution by going out of bounds and substituting the provision without the consent of the governed, so that Torres and Hocog could be governor and lieutenant governor instead of allowing the constitution, via the special election process, to lift the “acting” titles and make Torres and Hocog real, elected officials.

Right now, both are not elected to their offices. Hocog was elected Rota senator with 400 votes, and has not yet resigned from the Senate, and Torres rode Inos’ political bandwagon and took a second oath-of-office, unnecessarily. But even if Torres and Hocog have no election opponents, and they don’t, they still must adhere to the mandates of the Constitutional provisions established for this instance. So far, only silence on the special election issue, and those who brave this silence only hints at a lack of concern and concession, and perhaps even pathetic indifference or even a blank mind on this succession issue.

Again, because the succession process was defined in our constitution, we’re dealing with a constitutional law that carries a certain degree of formality. Issues and challenges must be dealt with in a way that provides for clear interpretation and adherence, a formal process that proves to us all and beyond the shadow of a doubt, that all successions into these two offices are legal. And we would give both due respect. Circumvention of this process brings out too many questions centered on legitimacy and illegitimacy, and we question that illegitimacy. When, then, is legitimacy going to happen?

Oh well, if the silence from those people involved in that meeting to promote our governor is a sign, then I suppose we have no choice but to step back and see what happens. The questions may eventually fade but the actions taken will go down in the history of the Northern Marianas as maybe, just maybe, another move similar to what Fitial did when he ignored the constitution and installed Inos to be the lieutenant governor, to replace outgoing lieutenant governor Timmy P. Villagomez. Fitial is no neophyte to political fisticuff. He’d been in the thickest of riots and rowdy campaignings since his Mt. Carmel days and beyond UOG.

By the way, the legislators had a choice. They had a voice but instead chose silence and did nothing. Hard to accept but understandable. And given the multitude of problems coming our way in a few short years, they will no doubt have their challenges as well. So, when all is said and done, it is not up to us but for the future to judge these events. To all, good luck, you certainly will need it.

Rudy M. Sablan

Contributing Author

Related Posts

Disclaimer: Comments are moderated. They will not appear immediately or even on the same day. Comments should be related to the topic. Off-topic comments would be deleted. Profanities are not allowed. Comments that are potentially libelous, inflammatory, or slanderous would be deleted.