Now that the House of Representatives leadership has been finally resolved, the next question would be who will be the next chairman of the Saipan and Northern Islands Legislative Delegation.
Expected to duke it out for the position are 18th House SNILD chair Rep. Ramon A. Tebuteb (Ind-Saipan) and Rep. John Paul Sablan (R-Saipan).
Sablan has already made known his intention of vying for the local legislative delegation’s chairmanship after begging off from taking any committee chairmanships from the newly formed coalition between House Speaker Joseph P. Deleon Guerrero’s (Ind-Saipan) independent bloc and vice speaker Rafael S. Demapan’s (R-Saipan) GOP representatives.
“The reason why I don’t have any chairmanship is because I’m vying for the SNILD chairmanship. Me and Tebuteb are trying to get numbers,” he said.
Following coalition lines that vaulted Deleon Guerrero and Demapan to leadership positions in the 19th House organizational session last Monday, Sablan seems to have the majority as he can count on the votes of 11 representatives as well as all three Saipan senators, including Sen. Justo Quitugua (Ind-Saipan).
“Justo might follow suit,” he said.
For the record, the coalition representatives expected to vote for Sablan for the SNILD’s top post include Deleon Guerrero, floor leader George Camacho (R-Saipan), and Reps. Antonio Sablan (Ind-Saipan), Francis S. Taimanao (Ind-Saipan), Felicidad Ogumoro, Angel Demapan (R-Saipan), and Leepan T. Guerrero (R-Saipan).
Aside from Quitugua, the Saipan senators Sablan expects to go to his side are Sen. Sixto Igisomar (R-Saipan) and Sen. Arnold I. Palacios (R-Saipan).
Asked what he thinks of his chances for the SNILD chairmanship, Tebuteb sounded resigned to his fate of losing the post.
“The Republicans want everything! That’s the direction they want…”
The eight who supported Tebuteb for speaker are also expected to vote for him as SNILD chairman and they are Reps. Edmund Villagomez (Ind-Saipan), Ralph N. Yumul (Ind-Saipan), Anthony T. Benavente (Ind-Saipan), Roman Benavente (Ind-Saipan), Larry Deleon Guerrero (Ind-Saipan), Edwin Propst (Ind-Saipan), Vinson Sablan (Ind-Saipan), and Blas Jonathan “B.J.” Attao (Ind-Saipan).
Committee assignments set
The office of Deleon Guerrero also officially released the appointments of chairmen and vice chairmen of House standing committees yesterday.
The chairman of the Committee on Commerce and Tourism is Guerrero with Angel Demapan as vice chairman, while the Committee on Education will be chaired by Ogumoro with Taimanao as vice chair.
Ogumoro and Taimanao would also serve as chair and vice chair of the Committee on Health and Welfare.
Angel Demapan will head the Committee on Federal and Foreign Affairs with Rep. Edwin Aldan (Ind-Tinian) as his second.
Rep. Glenn I. Maratita (Ind-Rota), meanwhile, will be chairman of the Committee on Judiciary and Governmental Operations, with Taimanao as vice chairman.
Aldan and Guerrero will chair and vice chair the Committee on Natural Resources, while the Committee on Public Utilities, Transportations, and Communications will have Taimanao as chair and Antonio Sablan as vice chair.
Antonio Sablan retains his chairmanship of the Committee on Ways and Means with Ogumoro as vice chair.
“With an 11-member leadership, we kind of brought the committees to what it used to be. Health was one committee and Education and Welfare was another in the 18th. Well, before it used to be Health, Education, and Welfare and since we don’t have enough people in the leadership, we put it back where it was so there are now eight committees. Commerce and Tourism we split it up in the 18th but it’s a bare minimum now, it’s a simple majority so we merged the committees now,” said Deleon Guerrero in explaining how the committees were divided up.
The speaker also announced that he has already appointed an ad hoc committee to review the House rules.
“What we adopted on inauguration day are interim rules. There will be changes on that. I’ve appointed the floor leader [George Camacho] to be the chair with Rep. John Paul Sablan and Rep. Tony Sablan to be members of that ad hoc committee.”
He said the interim rules were really meant only to set the rules for inauguration.
“Now then whoever the leadership that comes in normally reviews the rules for the House. This is standard practice, you have an interim rule for inauguration, then you have the House rules for the rest of the term.”