Itibus’ appointment to CUC board gains broad support
Dr. Dallas M. Peavey Jr., the acting executive director of the Commonwealth Utilities Corp., and CUC chief of administration Betty Terlaje expressed support yesterday to the appointment of former Commonwealth Development Authority board chair Pedro I. Itibus to serve as a member of the CUC board representing Saipan and the Carolinian community.
At a confirmation hearing conducted by the Senate Executive Appointments and Government Investigations Committee, Felix Nogis, the special assistant for the Carolinian Affairs Office, also testified that Itibus has distinguished himself throughout his government career and has earned respect of his superiors and colleagues.
“With his qualifications and experience, he brings a broader perspective and insight to the [CUC] board, should he be confirmed,” Nogis said.
Terlaje read a letter from Peavey supporting the appointee’s confirmation. Peavey was supposed to attend the hearing, but he’s on Tinian to attend to CUC matters.
Peavey stated in the letter thattibus will have the opportunity once again to serve the people of the CNMI as a board member of CUC.
He described Itibus as an an experienced board director in developing programs and in finding policies to advance the mission of the entity he represents.
Terlaje also testified in her personal and professional capacity as CUC chief of administration, saying Itibus has long been a public servant in the CNMI community.
She said that, as a former chairman of the Commonwealth Economic Development Authority (the former Commonwealth Development Authority), and a former member of upper management of the Department of Public Lands, Itibus brings a lot of experience in providing good governance and is not shy in matters that involve opposition to decisions for the best interest of the entity he represents.
Terlaje said there is a lot of work to be done at CUC, and being a CUC board member is time consuming, voluntary, and unpaid. “Mr. Itibus’ willingness, evidenced by his presence today to accept his public service calling once again, is indicative of his commitment to making the CNMI a better home,” Terlaje said.
Itibus thanked Gov. Arnold I. Palacios and Lt. Gov. David M. Apatang for having the confidence to appoint him to the CUC board. Itibus said he is honored to be a member of the CUC board if confirmed, and that he is looking forward to facing the challenges, particularly the rising price of fuel, which neither the CNMI nor CUC control.
“But we can depart from fuel and venture into other energy resources. That is a very, very challenging task. I’m looking forward to those tasks,” Itibus said.
Sen. Dennis Mendiola (R-Rota) noted that the appointee’s expertise and background heavily tends toward enforcement and he is curious to know if being a member of CUC board will pose as a challenge for Itibus in terms of his experience and expertise.
Itibus acknowledged that he does not have any experience in power generation, but that he is willing to learn, sit, and listen to experts. “If I have a question, I will seek out somebody that would assist me,” he said.
At the start of the hearing, Oscar M. Babauta, the special assistant for the Palacios-Apatang administration, said that Itibus has over 50 years of experience in various capacities, both professional and otherwise. He said Itibus started as a law enforcement officer from 1972 to 1988 with the Trust Territory Government and that of the CNMI government, through the Department of Public Safety, before moving on as a deputy clerk in the Superior Court.
In 1988, Itibus worked with the Department of Public Lands as a land investigator before being promoted to chief of the Land Claims Division.
He was also named deputy secretary of DPL before he was appointed by then-governor Benigno R. Fitial to be the DPL secretary, where he served until his retirement in 2016.
Babauta said that when he was the DPL secretary in 2010 to 2012, Itibus was their Land Claims Division manager, assessing all land claims that have been in limbo for quite sometimes.
Babauta said he finds Itibus’ long history of professional experiences, credentials, and commitment to serving the Commonwealth in this capacity as CUC board director makes him a viable candidate.