In Thursday’s “NMI Marks 40th Year of Covenant” article, Mr. Ralph Torres said, “We initiated a government of the people, by the people, and for the people.” This is not so, because there is no such thing to what is being said here. The phrases stated were Abraham Lincoln’s characterization of democracy in his Gettysburg Address of 1863. True democracy has to do with a people such as the people of the CNMI ruling themselves in one form or another. To say that the CNMI people favor democracy as a system of governing, that conception is fair and acceptable. But, what democracy stands for still baffles scholars and practitioners with its vague and general form of agreement of what democracy really means. The perplexing question still leave a wide range of consensus, and we can check and only assume what Mr. Torres is actually saying.
Just a few days ago, the festive ceremonial event at the mouth of the port where the MV Luta anchored is case in point. The antithesis of this celebratory showcase was not part of the democracy that Mr. Torres was talking about reported in the article. The MV Luta behind the shadow of Mr. Victor Hocog, the audience of onlookers on Mr. Hocog and MV Luta reflects the democracy that churned the reality at the point of time. The democracy of transparency, accountability, efficiency, nepotism, greed and corruption, privilege, protest, profiteering, public interest, deceit, secrecy, favoritism, checks and balances, public purpose, honesty and integrity, and public good could not be the government that Mr. Torres is referring to.
What about when the Office of the Governor, the Legislature, and the elected AG violated the mandate of Article lll, Section 7 of the CNMI Constitution. Mr. Ralph Torres and Mr. Victor Hocog received the cork of unconstitutional rule erroneously opined by the elected AG. This is not a democracy aspired by Mr. Ralph Torres that baptizes the CNMI’s as a democracy of the people, by the people, and for the people. Why the constitution was applicable in part and dismissive in others? That makes a case yet to be resolved under a democracy that we longed for.
If Article lll, Section 7 of the CNMI Constitution is written and read beginning with the last sentence, it may have resulted in a democracy that is constituted in the people’s constitution of government of the people, by the people, and for the people. If the elected AG, the Governor’s Office, the Legislature, and the CNMI Election Commission misread and misinterpreted the language of Article lll, Section 7, then we are dealing with incompetents. This was not a result of legitimate excuses, but a situation reckoning as deliberate. Where is the government of the people, for the people, and by the people?
Three sentences form the basis of Article lll, Section 7 of the CNMI Constitution. The factorial value of these three sentences is 6 (1X2X3). This means that the elected AG, the Governor’s Office, the Legislature must read and follow without exception the language part of the constitution in six different order combinations, and derive at the same conclusion. Obviously, the second sentence of Article lll, Section 7, is of no value because of the separation of power and conflict of interest in the constitution. The same effect results even if the last sentence becomes the first sentence as follows:
Section 7: An acting governor or lieutenant governor who assumes office when more than one year remains in the term may serve only until a governor or lieutenant governor is chosen in a special election provided by law. In case of removal, death, or resignation of the governor, the lieutenant governor shall become governor and the president of the senate shall become lieutenant governor.
Mr. Ralph Torres is mistaken with his assertive conception of democracy and suggests that his argument is polemically confused, at best. What supposedly pointed by our esteemed politician official I might have missed, nonetheless, it caught my attention. We do have a long ways towards maturity of governance in a democracy.
What constitutes government? Who is to rule whom and for what purpose? Who are the people? Or, is our democracy based on the Rule of, Rule by, and Rule for. Hence, what the antithesis of the MV Luta as a lesson in democracy could not grip well as fair, just and acceptable, and it has nothing to do with the conception of government of the people, by the people, and for the people. Our politicians must be guided that when their statement spew out into the public domain that becomes part of the public stock, and it could not be deleted once the imprint sails its course. I may appear harsh and abrasive here with this politician, but we need not be reminded as Mr. Victor Hocog suggests to be calm and keep a cool decorum when responding to bureaucrats’ public statement. If any politician wished silencing the public is democracy that works, then think again. Do not put a footprint on the sand if you do not want people to see that you went there. Let’s talk democracy, mean what you say, and know what you are saying, and that should not tatter you as a fool. When teetering on prepared material, then it is time to lash on the press secretary for the clumsy journalistic disservice to and for the governor’s office. I think, therefore, I am. This is democracy, and it is part of the deal.
Francisco R. Agulto