STILL NO SPEAKER A DAY BEFORE INAUGURATION
Representative-elect Edwin K. Propst is frustrated with how the 19th Legislature is set to start things off, as the incoming House of Representative has yet to choose a speaker less than a day to go before all 20 members are sworn into office.
“I hope we can resolve it. It would be great to resolve it by day’s end but if we have to resolve it there, I hope it doesn’t drag out. I hope it’s done quickly and painlessly. I was hoping to do that beforehand but it’s not going to happen. We just finished our [Red] Mass. Time is of the essence and we don’t have that luxury anymore and we just have to come in tomorrow without knowing. We just have to put it on the floor and it’s unfortunate,” the first-time lawmaker told Saipan Tribune in a phone interview yesterday.
Propst initially complained about the seemingly protracted process of picking a speaker in a social media message Friday.
“I want to apologize to all the voters out there who elected 20 of us representatives. Why can’t the 20 of us get together and decide who should be speaker? Why can’t we get the 20 of us together and have those who are vying for the position of speaker debate each other?” he wrote in Facebook.
Propst reiterated his stand during a phone interview yesterday afternoon. “I’ve been saying it all along—we should put partisan politics aside because we were elected not be the majority but to be public servants to all of the people, to everyone. Whether people voted for us or not we have an obligation to the people we serve because we’re public servants. I believe in majority rule when it comes to electing officers like the speaker. Regardless, I was elected to be the voice of the people and I will continue to do that.”
In his social media posting, Propst challenged the three vying for speaker—18th House Speaker Joseph P. Deleon Guerrero (Ind-Saipan), 18th House floor leader Rafael Demapan (R-Saipan), and Saipan and Northern Islands Legislative Delegation chair Ramon Tebuteb (Ind-Saipan)—to convene a meeting of all 20 incoming representatives to finally resolve the issue of who would be the next speaker.
“To the three vying for speaker: Enough! Get together and demand the 20 of us meet and let’s decide this before Monday. While I believe in the democratic process and I do believe in patience, this is just plain silly. In the meantime, I continue to ask for nothing. I do not want to chair a committee. What I want is to work with colleagues who are not going to jockey for power or prestige, but are going to work together for our entire Commonwealth. We owe it to our people to settle this already. This impasse is absolutely ridiculous.” Saipan Tribune earlier reported that Tebuteb can expect to garner the support of nine independents, among them Reps. Edmund Villagomez, Ralph N. Yumul, Anthony T. Benavente, Roman Benavente, Larry Deleon Guerrero, and incoming representatives, Vinson Sablan, Blas Jonathan “B.J.” Attao, and Propst.
Deleon Guerrero, meanwhile, is said to be counting on the votes of Rep. Anthony P. Sablan (Ind-Saipan) and freshmen lawmakers Edwin Aldan of Tinian and Francis Taimanao of Saipan.
Demapan can count on the seven NMI Republican Party lawmakers elected to the 19th House: Felicidad Ogumoro, John Paul P. Sablan, George Camacho, and newcomers Angel Demapan, Joseph “Leepan” T. Guerrero, and Glenn L. Maratita.