‘No to 5 House prosecutors’
Senate President Jude U. Hofschneider (R-Tinian) is standing his ground and will be exercising his constitutional authority as presiding officer by appointing a prosecutor in the impeachment trial of Gov. Ralph DLG Torres.
In response to Saipan Tribune’s inquiry whether he will grant the request of House of Representatives Speaker Edmund S. Villagomez (Ind-Saipan) to appoint a team of five House members as prosecutors, Hofschneider said yesterday that the Senate-adopted Impeachment Rules designate the Senate president to appoint a prosecutor.
“I made that appointment already,” he said.
When asked for clarification whether the Senate is not going to amend the Impeachment Rules, he again stated that the appointment of a prosecutor has been made.
Sen. Karl R. King-Nabors (R-Tinian), as then-Senate Committee on Impeachment Hearing chair, first appointed Villagomez to serve as House impeachment prosecutor but Villagomez declined. This prompted King-Nabors to send House vice speaker Blas Jonathan T. Attao (R-Saipan) a notice to file an appearance as the House impeachment prosecutor, considering that Attao served as chairman of the House Special Impeachment Committee. Attao also declined.
Hofschneider, as presiding officer of the impeachment trial, then appointed Rep. Corina L. Magofna (D-Saipan) last week to serve as House impeachment prosecutor. Magofna declined.
Villagomez then filed last Wednesday a notice of appearance for Reps. Magofna, Attao, Celina R. Babauta (D-Saipan), Donald Manglona (Ind-Rota), and Leila Staffler (D-Saipan) to serve as one team to prosecute Torres in his impeachment hearing in the Senate.
Magofna stated that the House stands ready to prosecute Torres and that they have been preparing as a unit to prosecute the impeachment together.