Senate vice president Arnold I. Palacios (R-Saipan) advised Northern Islands Mayor Jerome Aldan to continue in reaching out to Gov. Ralph DLG Torres and raise the concerns that would affect the municipality’s 10 islands, particularly Pagan.
The military plans to build a live-fire training facility in Pagan and it is one of the issues being discussed in the two rounds of 902 talks between the U.S. government representative and the CNMI panel.
Aldan, in an earlier interview, said he was surprised that he was not included in the CNMI panel despite trying to arrange a one-on-one meeting with Torres. “I really wanted to join the panel and I was hoping that I would get invited.”
Palacios said he understands how Aldan feels. “I’m not sure if I should talk about that because first of all the governor has the prerogative. I certainly understand his [Aldan’s] disappointment, having said that, I’m not in the position since it is always the governor’s call.”
“In fact, the governor has also the prerogative to invite members of the Legislature—both the Senate and the House—to be on the 902 panel. That’s his [Torres] prerogative and I don’t want to second guess that.”
Palacios, however, advised Aldan to talk to Torres. “I understand [Aldan’s] disappointment but I still encourage him to set aside any dismay.”
“If he has any input, he should communicate with me or with the governor directly. I had the intention to call him up and I agree that he must also be part of the 902 panel.”
Aldan said Palacios called him after the first 902 talks in Washington, D.C. last June where the senator showed him an executive summary of what was discussed. The second round was held last month in Hawaii.
Aldan said that Palacios even told him that he asked Torres to include him on the CNMI panel in Hawaii. However, he added that they had already submitted the Northern Islands Municipality’s position on several issues that will be discussed in the 902 talks.
He said that he tried a number of times to reach out to Torres since the island that is involved is under the Municipality of the Northern Islands. “Maybe I’m too straight forward but I was also invited to see the live-fire training range in Hawaii.”
“I texted the governor so I could meet with him since there are a lot issues I would want to discuss. I asked for a one-on-one meeting before he left for Hawaii. I also had no chance to meet him last week [Monday].”
Torres is again off-island having left Sunday for Alaska where he would meet Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski.
Murkowski is the chairman of the Subcommittee on Interior, Environment, and related agencies under the Committee on Appropriations of the U.S. Senate. Torres wants an audience with her to talk about the proposed extension of the CNMI-Only Transitional Worker nonimmigrant visa (CW-1) program and other labor issues.