Palacios, Apatang team up

Campaign slogan is ‘Rebuilding Trust’


With the campaign slogan “Rebuilding Trust,” Lt. Gov. Arnold I. Palacios and Saipan Mayor David M. Apatang officially declared yesterday afternoon their candidacies as governor and lieutenant governor respectively, in the November 2022 election.

“We can no longer keep quiet. And I know many of you have shared your thoughts. Many of you may not have shared your thoughts with us but we know deep down in our heart, we know where are you at, where we are at today,” said Palacios, who is a Republican, in his speech at the Minachom Atdao.

Apatang delivered his speech in Chamorro. In a written statement provided to the media, he stated that the CNMI deserves leaders that are trustworthy.

“We deserve a Commonwealth that is clean, safe, and vibrant, where we can expect economic growth without sacrificing our cultural and social values,” Apatang said.

Palacios’ and Apatang’s family members and supporters attended the ceremony.

Palacios and Apatang will be running as independent candidates “at this point.”

In separate interview yesterday, Palacios said he is not closing the door to the Democratic Party, which has invited them to submit a letter of intent to run. Apatang, however, appears to be less optimistic, believing that nothing will come out with talks with the Democratic Party and that they will indeed run on an independent slate.

Gov. Ralph DLG Torres had already announced his intent to seek re-election with Sen. Vinnie Vinson F. Sablan (R-Saipan) as his running mate.

In his remarks yesterday, Palacios said they took a lot of time to reflect on their decision as it wasn’t easy. He said he also reflected on how it would impact his relationship with Torres as the lieutenant governor.

“Nevertheless, Dave and I made a decision after sitting down with many family members older than us, younger than us, and listening to their advice,” Palacios said.

He said they eventually decided to offer the community an alternative to the present system.

Palacios acknowledges that many people have lost confidence in many of those who are running the government and that includes himself and Apatang. “Perhaps because I was implicit and the mayor also was quiet about it, hoping that one of these days the power-that-be that makes the ultimate decision will find our way,” he said.

Palacios said it’s going to be a challenge to rebuild the trust and confidence of the people. “Dave and I have made a commitment to earn your respect and to earn your trust and to earn your confidence…” said Palacios, drawing cheers from supporters. “We look forward to a time when our community is fair, robust. We look forward to an economy that is sustainable and is fair to everyone in the business community…”

He said he and Apatang are offering their experience and service to the people of the Commonwealth. “We all embrace a government that is responsive to its citizenry,” Palacios said.

He said that is why they are offering their service and taking the challenge to rebuild trust in the Commonwealth government.

Palacios was elected lieutenant governor with Torres as governor in 2018. They began the term in January 2019.

Palacios used to serve as a Saipan senator and became Speaker of the House’s 16th Legislature.

Apatang said he and Palacios are embarking on a mission to restore trust in the government. He said the challenges the CNMI is facing with the COVID-19 pandemic puts a stronger focus on making sure that taxpayers’ money is not wasted through dishonesty or other financial mismanagement.

He said leaders must avoid becoming entrenched in self-interest and make decision on matters that are inconsistent with morals and values.

Apatang ran for mayor as an independent in 2014. He is currently serving his second term as mayor, which ends in January 2023.

Former House speaker Oscar Babauta, who served as the emcee at the ceremony, said he accepted the invitation of Palacios and Apatang to serve as chair of the executive committee under the independent organization.

Republican Reps. Blas Jonathan Attao, Ralph N. Yumul, and John Paul Sablan attended the event.

Also seen were forme governor Benigno R. Fitial, former senators Pete Reyes, Thomas P. Villagomez, Juan Pangelinan Tenorio Morgan, former speaker Pedro Guerrero, former representatives Claudio K. Norita, Janet Maratita, Roman C. Benavente, Mariano Bermudes, and John Sablan Reyes, and some other former government officials.

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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