Kilili: One-party system has led to cronyism, corruption


Delegate Gregorio Kilili Camacho Sablan (Independent-MP), center, poses with Democratic Party candidates, from left, Rep. Richard Lizama, Edith Deleon Guerrero, and Peter Reyes Muna during the Democratic Party’s filing of candidates last week. At the extreme right is Sen. Paul A. Manglona (Independent-Rota) who, along with Sablan, came to support the Democratic Party’s candidates.

Delegate Gregorio Kilili C. Sablan (Ind-MP) believes that a one-party system—similar to what has been happening in the CNMI—is not ideal as it leads to cronyism and corruption, and makes the government inefficient.

“Maybe it is ironic for me to say this because I am running unopposed, but for too long, I think, Marianas voters have felt they had no real choice,” said Sablan in response to Saipan Tribune’s request for comments about having a two-party system again in the CNMI.

The NMI Democratic Party is fielding 18 candidates, including nine women, for the Nov. 3 general elections, which is a first in over four decades, and making a two-political party system alive again in the Commonwealth.

Sablan said a competition of ideas and values leads to better public policy.

He said it is good to see the Democratic Party organizing again to give people a meaningful choice in how to run the CNMI government and a slate of honest, smart, hard-working candidates. “I am not saying there are no good Republicans or Independents—I am running as an Independent,” Sablan said.

The delegate said as an organized group of candidates, there seem to be the view that in this Nov. 3 general elections, Democratic candidates have much more to offer to the people of the Marianas than what the Republicans have been giving the people for so many years. “People really want change,” he said.

Sablan describes his unopposed run in this election as “humbling.”

Sablan ran unopposed in the November 2016 election.

He said being unopposed means he can spend all of his time working to help the people of the Marianas stay safe and get through the economic consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic. “So, yes, in the middle of this crisis, I appreciate being unopposed,” the delegate said.

He said running unopposed again means to continue to be of service, knowing that he can represent the people and the islands.

Sablan added that being unopposed also means the leadership in Congress know that he has the full confidence of the people he represents and will be back to work in the 117th Congress.

Sablan, 65, has filed his candidacy to seek an unprecedented seventh term as the CNMI’s delegate in the U.S. House of Representatives for this Nov. 3 general elections.

First elected in 2008, he became the first delegate from the CNMI.

Although he was re-elected as an independent in 2014, 2016, and 2018 elections, Sablan caucuses with Democrats in Congress.

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
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