Kilili to Torres: Inspector generals will be watching

Delegate says autonomous agencies can work better than new office


Delegate Gregorio Kilili C. Sablan (Ind-MP) has warned Gov. Ralph DLG Torres that several federal department and agency Inspector Generals will be checking how federal monies such as the $244-million Community Block Grant-Disaster Recovery and monies that he is working to bring in the American Jobs Plan are kept and managed.

In response to Torres’ announcement last week that he created a new office—Infrastructure and Recovery Program—Sablan said the governor is opening the new office to oversee programs/monies expected in the not yet introduced American Jobs Plan Act. “I am here working with other members and committees to see that the funds for our many infrastructure needs are funded through that bill,” Sablan said.

Torres said the creation of the Infrastructure and Recovery Program office aims to streamline the close to a billion dollars of recovery and infrastructure projects in the CNMI. The new office is headed by Marianne Concepcion-Teregeyo. Torres said IRP will especially move forward projects such as with the Northern Marianas College, the Public School System, Commonwealth Healthcare Corp., Commonwealth Utilities Corp., and road projects such as Route 36 and 35.

In his response in the comment section of an online article about the creation of the new office, Sablan said NMC’s and the PSS’ autonomy are granted in the CNMI Constitution, while CHCC and CUC are independent public corporations. The delegate said these agencies and entities have, by law, immunity from the arbitrary exercise of authority and political independence. “They have their own procurement rules and regulations that govern their contracting authorities,” he said.

Sablan said that, by “herding” these agencies, potentially hundreds of millions of dollars in construction projects into a more inferior agency that Torres established makes one wonder if the governor’s “naked intention is to control who gets awarded contracts.” See Gov. Ralph DLG Torres’ response on Page 11

Sablan said people are no longer blind to Torres’ “self-serving interest in managing the Commonwealth government’s business.”

“Didn’t you learn anything from the execution and service of federal court search warrants upon yourself and some members of your family?” Sablan asked.

The delegate said government employees who work against the spirit and letter of federal grants could be subjected to charges as well.

He said the claim that “the governor told me to do something a certain way” is no defense to violating federal grant conditions.

Sablan said just as the federal government, the Federal Emergency Management Agency in this case, refused to reimburse the CNMI for overtime costs, the Commonwealth could be in the hook of millions of dollars of expenditures that paid out and are inconsistent with federal grant conditions.

The delegate asked Torres to allow NMC, PSS, CHCC, and CUC to work on grants that he is working for them. “They do it better than a new office you are establishing from the scratch,” he said.

Sablan said he is not working on getting money for these agencies so that Torres can give contracts to his preferred contractors.

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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