JGO will hear testimony of Torres, DPS chief Deleon Guerrero on Friday


Rep. Celina R. Babauta (D-Saipan), Gov. Ralph DLG Torres, and Department of Public Safety Commissioner Robert Alepuyo Deleon Guerrero

The House of Representatives’ Judiciary and Governmental Operations Committee will hear the testimony this Friday of Department of Public Safety Commissioner Robert Alepuyo Deleon Guerrero, as well as that of Gov. Ralph DLG Torres.

Committee chair Rep. Celina R. Babauta (D-Saipan) said Monday night that they intend to press ahead with their investigation in the case.

Babauta also told Saipan Tribune yesterday that House Vice Speaker Blas Jonathan Attao would be leading the JGO meeting that day (Tuesday) with no witnesses and would recess until this Friday.

DPS Commissioner Deleon Guerrero was supposed to testify yesterday.

Babauta said they have to conduct the meeting yesterday because they put out a notice of the meeting/hearing pursuant to the Open Government Act and that she didn’t cancel it.

Deleon Guerrero’s counsel, Anthony Aguon, said Monday that the commissioner was prepared to testify yesterday. Saipan Tribune was unable to independently verify if Torres will testify this Friday.

The Democrat-controlled JGO is investigating Torres’ expenditures of public funds travels. The governor is a Republican.

In a press statement Monday night, Babauta said that, in light of the escalating number of positive COVID-19 cases in the Commonwealth, the JGO Committee has been in meetings all day Monday with Legislative Bureau director Perry Tenorio and the House counsels, in consultation with House Speaker Edmund S. Villagomez.

She said the JGO Committee collectively made a decision to delay the meeting scheduled for Tuesday, Dec. 7, to this Friday while the Legislative Bureau prepares the building for everyone’s safety.

“Our responsibility to public health and to the safety of the community comes first,” the chair said.

In keeping with the more stringent COVID-19 control measures implemented this week, the public is advised that seating in the House chamber for this Friday’s JGO hearing may be restricted to ensure social distancing.

Torres signed an order last Sunday shutting down non-essential agencies in the government for 14 days and advising all non-essential workers to stay home. Babauta said the presiding officers of the Legislature met Monday and decided to remain in operation.

“The burden to reconcile the need to be vigilant in light of recent surges in COVID-19 cases with the need to continue our legislative mission weighed heavily on your JGO Committee,” Babauta said.

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 ferdie_delatorre@Saipantribune.com

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