Retired CNMI Supreme Court chief justice Jose S. Dela Cruz delivered a lighthearted eulogy to honor their younger brother, the late representative Francisco Santos Dela Cruz, in last Saturday’s funeral rites at the Mt. Carmel Cathedral. The 56-year-old lawmaker was laid to rest afterwards at the nearby Mt. Carmel Cemetery with family, friends, CNMI officials, and his colleagues at the Legislature in attendance.
The former magistrate said that their brother’s passing was sudden—last Jan. 6 while visiting their family and friends on Tinian. “He was 56 years old and still at the prime of his life. He was at an age where dying would be the last thing in your mind. His sudden departure left us all in a state of shock and disbelief.”
“Frank’s wife Lisa and four children—Divana, Dana, Deveney, and Damien—were truly devastated of his untimely passing… It is not easy to lose your youngest brother, especially one who is caring and loving. Frank had a good heart. We had lost a truly good person and the Commonwealth a good public servant.”
Representative Dela Cruz was the youngest among seven kids—Juan, Jose, Maria DLC Blas, Elizabeth DLC Heacock, Ramon, and Edward—of the late Tomas Castro and Remedio Sablan Santos Dela Cruz.
He added, “For all of us who knew Frank personally—his friends, family, and the people of our island community—we grieve because all of a sudden, he’s no longer with us. We grieve because Frank touched our lives in one way or another when he was with us.”
The older Dela Cruz then recalled how Frank, or Liki, to them surprised their family when he announced his intention to run for public office since his brother was not an outgoing type. “We were surprised because he was a private individual and unassuming; but he would always talk to people first.”
Dela Cruz was first elected in the 15th CNMI Legislature and served until the 18th, where he became vice speaker under the leadership of former House speaker Joseph P. Deleon Guerrero. He failed in his reelection for the 19th Legislature, but came back in the 20th and again won one of the six seats for Precinct 3 in the 21st. Sadly, he died before the inauguration.
Jose Dela Cruz said their brother, after being elected, scrutinized every bill that goes through his office. “He took his oath of office seriously with commitment and to the best of his ability. His guiding principle was to see if the legislation would benefit or would put a burden to the CNMI.”
Public utilities has always been close to Dela Cruz as he even served as the chair of the House Public Utilities Committee. “He’s always into public utilities issues in the CNMI. He is particularly concerned on the effective delivery of public utilities and making sure consumers are being reasonably charged for water, power, sewer, telecommunications, and cable TV.”
“He wants to make sure utility charges for CNMI consumers are fair and reasonable, not excessive and unjust. Oversight is extremely important to him. Having a regulatory agency and legislative needs overseeing public utilities. The House and Senate public utilities committees should always make sure that utility service, rates, and charges are fair and reasonable and would not be a burden to the consuming public.”
The retired chief justice also remembered his brother as a hardworking family man aside from being a dedicated public servant. “He worked tirelessly to ensure that they [his family] have a decent life, good education, and become responsible adults. When I say tirelessly, I mean that to the true sense of the word—he personally does his own yard work, painting their house, plumbing, including fixing the computer for he was also a computer geek.”
“Frank’s colleagues in the CNMI Legislature can also easily remember his ability to get along with everyone. But, when substantive legislative matters where an issue, he becomes passionately involved. He did not stand by idly and always made his point of views known in every issue. He would never compromise his integrity or the general welfare of the people.”
Jose Dela Cruz shared other stories, which drew chuckles and smiles from the congregation—about his brother like when his own wife, Rita, told him that he should be more like his younger brother who likes physical work and the times that their family gatherings with their other siblings would often end late at night after their two other brothers—John and Ray—would argue on who is the best singer between them.
“It is sufficing to say, that all of us, including our two sisters Mary and Beth, always rely on Frank to help us whenever any of us are in need. We will be forever indebted to Frank for all of the things he has done. Our family thank you and we appreciate the words of condolences and all your prayers.”
Gov. Ralph DLG Torres and first lady Diann T. Torres, House Speaker Blas Jonathan T. Attao (R-Saipan), several members of the 21st CNMI Legislature, and other local government officials attended the funeral to offer their condolences to the family.