Edward E. Manibusan, the first elected attorney general of the CNMI, was sworn in yesterday for his second term in a ceremony at the Pacific Islands Club’s Annex Room.
Superior Court Presiding Judge Roberto C. Naraja administered the oath of office for Manibusan, who ran unopposed and obtained over 11,000 votes in the general election last Nov. 13.
Present at the ceremony were Manibusan’s wife, Delfina, family members, relatives, and friends, as well as staff of the Office of the Attorney General.
In his remarks, Manibusan reiterated his platform when he first ran in 2014: to make the OAG the best law firm in the region and to make the OAG work for the people.
“I am proud of the work we did the past four years,” he said, citing that his office has successfully defended actions and claims against the Commonwealth.
Manibusan said his goal in the months and years ahead is to continue to promote and ensure an open and transparent government.
“I published an Open Government Act pamphlet, which was made available to all the agencies, boards, and commissions to guide them as they perform their duties,” he said.
He vowed to ensure that the Open Government law is followed by every agency of the government in his next term.
Manibusan said he will continue to focus his attention on the rule of law, not political agendas or special interest and continue to foster a non-partisan position on all matters brought to his attention.
With respect to his first term, Manibusan said they championed cases that he believed violated the CNMI Constitution, as in the case relating to conflict between the governor and the attorney general in the exercise of powers and duties.
Citing his lawsuit against Finance Secretary Larrisa Larson, Manibusan said his office took action and successfully litigated against the salary of the Executive and Legislative branches.
He said they brought and settled claims on behalf of the Commonwealth on many different issues, cases involving violation of the CNMI zoning laws, building code, environmental laws, consumer related issues, settled longstanding judgments against the Commonwealth, including land compensation and employment disputes.
He said they brought actions to recover money and property belonging to the people of the Commonwealth.
“We are continuously working on a path of becoming an independent office free from politics and interference as required by our Constitution,” Manibusan said.
He said he is proud of where the OAG is today in its relationship with the Executive Branch in the execution of Commonwealth laws.
Manibusan said his overarching goal has and will continue to be the protection and security of citizens. Toward this end, he said he has assembled a strong prosecution team who work with the law enforcement partners to bring violators to justice.
“We will continue our efforts to keep violent and dangerous criminals off our villages and neighborhood,” he said, citing that their record in the trial court and appeals to the CNMI Supreme Court are examples to the hard work and dedication of their prosecutors.
Manibusan said while they work to prosecute and convict law violators, they also believe in the rehabilitation of those who deserve a second chance.
Among the actions he considers strides for the OAG in the last four years is the creation of a solicitor section and assignment of an assistant AG to handle consumer issue and complaint.
He said they have drafted legislation for the protection and livelihood of children and drafted legislation dealing with the right to bear arms.
Manibusan said he is proud of the work the OAG and the government have done collectively. “I am ready to serve the people of the Commonwealth once again—to the best of my ability,” he said.
Manibusan was sworn in as the first elected AG in the CNMI in January 2015. He is a former judge and presiding judge of the CNMI Superior Court.