‘Independems’ coalition unveils unity pledge


The coalition of the independent party of Lt. Gov. Arnold I. Palacios and Saipan Mayor David M. Apatang and the Democratic Party tandem of Rep. Christina “Tina Sablan (D-Saipan) and Rep. Leila Staffler (D-Saipan) show their unity pledge that makes official the partnership between the parties, where they agreed on certain issues that will be addressed if the Palacios-Apatang tandem were to win in the upcoming runoff election. (KIMBERLY B. ESMORES)

The unified independent team of Lt. Gov. Arnold Palacios and Saipan Mayor David M. Apatang and the Democratic Party coalition unveiled a unity pledge last Wednesday that doesn’t just make official the partnership between the two groups, but would also essentially be the backbone of the AD administration if Palacios and Apatang were to win in the upcoming runoff election.

Palacios, Apatang, Reps. Christina “Tina” Sablan (D-Saipan), and Leila Staffler (D-Saipan) unveiled and signed Wednesday a unity pledge between the independent group and the Democratic Party, solidifying the union that they call the “Independems.” Sablan and Staffler were the Democratic Party’s standard bearers last Nov. 8, 2022.

According to Palacios, the unity pledge between the AD team and the Sablan-Staffler duo addresses the issues and programs that the four have agreed are important tasks to tackle for a better Commonwealth.

“If we, the Palacios-Apatang team, are successful, we will pursue the issues that were agreed upon in this pledge,” he said.

If the AD duo is successful in the race for governor and lieutenant governor, the pledge will be the basis of success of the administration and will be tandem’s guide in their dream for a better CNMI.

Palacios’ running mate, Apatang, stated that if elected, he will ensure that he and Palacios will stand by their pledge as they believe that the issues addressed would ultimately restore the CNMI’s government to an honest and responsible one.

“We, the Democrats and independents, have united [through this pledge] for the betterment of our people here in the Commonwealth and this is a very happy day for us. The pledge that we signed today is very important as it states that Arnold and I share the same vision and we will make sure that we honor this pledge 100%. This is for our people. We need to take our government back and return it to our people. They deserve it,” he added.

Some of the issues that Palacios and Apatang have agreed to address include opening up the Commonwealth’s financial books, ending nepotism and political intimidation within the government, restoring the integrity of law enforcement agencies, instituting election reform, improving and expanding access to healthcare, establishing a robust workforce development program for the CNMI, and completing long-delayed disaster recovery and infrastructure development projects.

Sablan stated that it was important for her and Staffler that the AD duo understood some of the goals and objectives that that they were pushing throughout their campaign that were also consistent with AD’s vision and priorities and were addressed in this pledge.

“It really wasn’t that difficult to come to this set of agreements. So we put it in writing, making this a public document, so that people can see that these are the things that we agree on. These are the priorities that we will collaborate on. This pledge is really the product of that collaboration, that ongoing conversation, and our shared understanding that the need for a change in leadership in the Commonwealth has never been more urgent. And we need to make that happen on Nov. 25,” Sablan said.

Staffler said the unity pledge represents the high expectations that the entire CNMI should have of its government.

“I want to thank the Arnold and Dave team for committing to this vision, as you could see throughout the campaign season from many months ago that we often had that a similar vision of what our Marianas could be. Because we know that the current administration does not exhibit what we know to be good governance. And, unfortunately, we are at this crossroad, where there’s so much pressure out there in the community. And we need our community to stand strong, and be committed to that good governance pledge. And I’m very excited we are able to share this with everyone,” Staffler said.

Kimberly Bautista Esmores | Reporter
Kimberly Bautista Esmores has covered a wide range of news beats, including the community, housing, crime, and more. She now covers sports for the Saipan Tribune. Contact her at kimberly_bautista@saipantribune.com.
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