No TRO yet in PSS’ lawsuit against Torres and Atalig

Case re-assigned to Camacho

At this time, the Superior Court has not granted a temporary restraining order in connection with the lawsuit filed by the Public School System and Education Commissioner Dr. Alfred Ada against Gov. Ralph DLG Torres and Finance Secretary David Atalig over the annual PSS budget.

Instead, Associate Judge Joseph N. Camacho on Thursday set a status conference for April 14 at the Marianas Business Plaza in Susupe. Camacho ordered the parties to come prepared to discuss briefing deadlines and hearing dates.

Presiding Judge Roberto C. Naraja re-assigned the case to Camacho on Thursday after Associate Judge Teresa Kim-Tenorio recused herself from handling the case, saying she is close family friends with the teacher representative on the Board of Education.

PSS and Ada are suing Torres and Atalig to guarantee for PSS an annual budget of not less than 25% of the Commonwealth’s general revenue. Ada and PSS, through counsel Tiberius Mocanu, allege that Torres and Atalig are in violation of the NMI Constitution. Mocanu said that Public Law 21-08, which set the Commonwealth government’s budget for fiscal year 2020, allocated $37.72 million to PSS, which is approximately 16% of the budget. He said Torres and Atalig are in violation of the NMI Constitution because every allotment and disbursement made pursuant to P.L. 21-08 is unconstitutional.

PSS and Ada asked the court to declare P.L. 21-08 unconstitutional. They asked the court to issue a preliminary and permanent injunction to stop Torres and Atalig from issuing any payments or disbursements that do not comply with the Constitution.

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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