House committees set joint meeting, include ‘contempt’ in their agenda

Chief of staff William Castro agrees to cooperate, seeks extension

Celina R. Babauta and Donald M. Manglona

Two House of Representatives committees scheduled yesterday a joint meeting related to their subpoena to compel some entities and persons to produce and testify related to the Torres administration’s Building Optimism, Opportunities, and Stability Together, and one of the meeting’s agenda is “contempt.”

Committee on Ways and Means chair Rep. Donald M. Manglaona (Ind-Rota) and Committee on Judiciary and Governmental Operations chair Rep. Celina R. Babauta (D-Saipan) set the joint meeting in the House chamber for this Friday at 2pm.

In response to Saipan Tribune’s inquiry why “contempt” is on the agenda, Babauta disclosed that it was just so they’d be prepared in case chief of staff to the governor William Castro was not going to be cooperative. “But that was not the case. Castro said that he was willing to cooperate,” Babauta said.

She said Castro, who was among the individuals who’ve been subpoenaed, missed the deadline but that after they called him, he asked for an extension.

Babauta said Castro failed to provide any documents or communicate prior to the deadline yesterday, Tuesday, at 10am. She said they called Castro and that his response was that he thought he was covered by the extension that the committees granted to Finance Secretary David DLG Atalig. The chair said they told Castro he was not covered and that he needs to request for an extension.

“He did so via email and in good faith,” said Babauta, adding that she and Manglona agreed to grant Castro an extension.

Babauta also disclosed that Bank of Saipan, which was also served with a subpoena, also requested for an extension.

She said Commerce Secretary Edward M. Deleon Guerrero was only served a subpoena Monday because the House sergeant-at-arms failed to locate him last Tuesday, last week, or before the long holiday.

Babauta said that Bank of Guam, which was also served with a subpoena, responded.

The committees served the subpoena in a bid to find out, among other things, who have been awarded BOOST Program funds and those who have been denied or are still awaiting disposition.

It was Rep. Christina E. Sablan (D-Saipan) who moved the committees to issue subpoenas.

The committees served subpoenas to obtain documents from BOG and BOS related to the administration of the BOOST Program and the role that the banks playsin the program.

The committees served subpoenas to individuals so they could testify before the committees. These individuals are Castro, Atalig, Deleon Guerrero, Commerce director of Economic Development Jesus Taisague, BOS president John Arroyo, BOS employee and BOOST Program administrator Karen Kalen, and BOG vice president/CNMI regional manager Merced “Marcie” Tomokane.

The committees also agreed to issue subpoenas to the Department of Finance, Department of Commerce, Office of the Governor, and BOS. The subpoena compels them to produce BOOST Program records.

The BOOST Program is a project of the Office of the Governor and the Department of Commerce that aims to provide financial assistance to CNMI businesses and non-profit organizations.

Ferdie De La Torre | Reporter
Ferdie Ponce de la Torre is a senior reporter of Saipan Tribune. He has a bachelor’s degree in journalism and has covered all news beats in the CNMI. He is a recipient of the CNMI Supreme Court Justice Award. Contact him at

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