Cielo Long of Tinian Jr./Sr. High elected speaker
Members of the 18th CNMI Youth Congress were sworn into office Saturday morning, with Cielo Citlalli Gutierrez Long, an incumbent representing the Tinian Junior/Senior High School, being elected speaker during an organizational session in the Senate chamber on Capital Hill.
Long was elected by acclamation to serve as the speaker for the 18th CNMI Youth Congress as there were no other nominees during the session. It was Youth senator Liekeila’akata Tapua’ialupe Iakopo of Kagman High School who nominated Long as speaker.
House of the Representatives Speaker Edmund S. Villagomez (Ind-Saipan), who served as speaker pro tem of the CNMI Youth Congress during the session, declared Long as the speaker.
Iakopo was elected vice speaker, YuriHana Deleon Guerrero Sasamoto of Mount Carmel High School is floor leader, and Abriette Patience T. Manglona of Dr. Rita H. Inos Jr.-Sr. High School is legislative secretary.
The other Youth Congress senator is Easton Joel Cabrera Dela Cruz of Marianas High School.
Long said she will name the committee chairpersons at a later date.
CNMI Supreme Court Chief Justice Alexandro C. Castro administered the oath of office for the Youth senators.
Long, 16, said in her speech that her focus will be on environmental awareness. In an interview with the media after the ceremony, Long said what people can expect from her is a lot of involvement in the community and that she will do her best to reach out to many organizations.
Long said this is actually her second term running for the Youth Congress, so a big part of why she decided to join again was because they have a lot of unfinished business to take care of. “A lot of our bills got introduced, but were not fully passed. So this term, I’m looking forward to reintroducing those bills and hopefully passing those once again, and to make some real change,” she said.
Iakopo, 15, said she will stand as an advocate for her school and emphasize the importance of prioritizing the needs of the youth.
Sasamoto, 15, vowed to work for and with the CNMI’s youth and to do everything in her power along with her follow senators to improve the lives of the youth in the CNMI. “Together we can strive for and accomplish betterment of the youth. Together we can make real change,” she said.
Dela Cruz, 16, said the needs of the youth are fluid and ever changing, especially with the “new normal” because of COVID-19. “As our community continues to transition, I will ensure that our voices are heard, that I bring attention to issues we are passionate about, bring attention to innovative solutions the youth come up with, and bridge the gap between the generations in our community,” Dela Cruz said.
Manglona, 15, said she is eager to dedicate herself as well as her fellow Youth Congress senators to the issues that the islands are faced with. She said it is her mission to listen to learn and to understand all the factors affecting the youth of the CNMI.
CNMI Youth Congress secretary/coordinator Luis John DLG Castro earlier disclosed that over a thousand students participated in the biennial Youth Congress election, which were held last April 7, 8, and 15. Of 2,134 registered student voters, over 73% cast their ballots.
Castro, a member of the 21st CNMI House of the Representatives, served as speaker of the 4th CNMI Youth Congress.