Lizama files candidacy for CNMI AG

Former judge challenges Manibusan’s bid for 3rd term

Accompanied by members of a committee to elect, former Superior Court associate judge Juan T. Lizama signs some documents yesterday afternoon for his candidacy for an elected CNMI attorney general. Commonwealth Election Commission executive director Kayla S. Igitol received Lizama’s candidacy papers inside the CEC office in Susupe. (FERDIE DE LA TORRE)

Former Superior Court associate judge Juan T. Lizama filed yesterday afternoon his candidacy for an elected CNMI attorney general in the Nov. 8 general election.

Lizama will challenge at the polls former Superior Court presiding judge Edward Manibusan, who is seeking his third four-year term as an elected AG.

Accompanied by members of a committee to elect, Lizama submitted his candidacy documents before Commonwealth Election Commission executive director Kayla S. Igitol at the CEC office.

Lizama said the CNMI has a lot of potentials and that he is looking at it on the positive side.

“I think we can do a lot here,” said the former judge, adding that it’s the AG’s inherent responsibility to look into all aspects of civil rights, employment rights, and workers’ rights.

He said he sees a lot of issues coming up, especially with conservative decisions such as the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision that upended Roe v. Wade.

In the Roe v. Wade case, the U.S. Supreme Court issued in 1973 a landmark ruling that the U.S. Constitution conferred the right to have an abortion.

Last June, the U.S. Supreme Court reversed the Roe v. Wade decision, declaring that the constitutional right to abortion no longer exists.

“I think we need to be, you know, more in tune with those issues. Not just…being aloof about the issues,” Lizama said. “What happens if there’s an emergency situation, somebody has to go to the hospital and has to have an abortion? What is going to happen?”

Lizama said there’s always that possibility that nobody would entertain that because of fear that they’re going to be prosecuted.

He said he’s surprised with Manibusan running for a third term, because most states or most jurisdictions only have two terms for an elected AG. Lizama said it’s due time that the CNMI requires the AG to have only two terms, for a total of eight years.

Lizama said Manibusan is a “good guy” and that he is not going to talk about why he is running against him.

“It’s just more [about] what I can do …” he said.

In 2008, Lizama retired after serving 10 years as a Superior Court associate judge. He was the first judge to be retained on the bench in the CNMI.

Manibusan, who is the CNMI’s first elected AG, filed his candidacy for re-election Monday. At the general election in November 2018, he ran unopposed for his second term and obtained over 11,000 votes.

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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