House insists on 5 prosecutors
The Democrat-controlled House of Representatives insists on having five members serve as prosecutors in the impeachment trial of Gov. Ralph DLG Torres, in direct opposition to the stance of the Republican-controlled Senate, thus setting the stage for a showdown between the two chambers of the 22nd Legislature.
In response to Saipan Tribune’s inquiry about the impeachment matter, House Speaker Edmund S. Villagomez (Ind-Saipan) said yesterday that they have decided to stick to their decision that there should be a team of prosecutors of his choosing.
Villagomez earlier appointed five prosecutors—vice speaker Blas Jonathan T. Attao (R-Saipan), and Reps. Corina L. Magofna (D-Saipan), Celina R. Babauta (D-Saipan), Donald M. Manglona (Ind-Rota), and Leila C. Staffler (D-Saipan)—to prosecute Torres in the Senate.
He said Senate President Jude U. Hofschneider (R-Tinian) had appointed one—Magofna as the sole prosecutor—but Magofna has declined.
“And if I am not mistaken, the Senate president said they will proceed with or without [a prosecutor],” Villagomez said.
Villagomez did not mention what they are going to do if the Senate will proceed with the trial with or without a House prosecutor.
Hofschneider told Saipan Tribune Monday that the Senate-adopted Impeachment Rules require the Senate president to appoint a prosecutor.
“I made that appointment already,” said Hoschneider, referring to Magofna.
The Senate first appointed Villagomez as prosecutor, but the speaker declined. The Senate then appointed Attao, but the vice speaker also declined. This prompted Hofschneider to appoint Magofna, but Magofna declined too. Villagomez instead appointed Magofna and four other representatives to serve as the House’s prosecutorial team.
The Senate is controlled by the Republican Party. Torres is seeing re-election in the Nov. 8 election under the Republican Party.