A group of Rota voters and residents has launched an online petition that urges Rota Mayor Efraim M. Atalig to disassociate himself from the office of the municipality after the latter was accused of corruption.
Peter A. Camacho–not Pedro Dela Cruz as earlier reported–started the petition, which aims to get 100 signatures from Rota voters. The petition, so far, has 55 signatures.
Atalig is facing four charges: conspiracy, wire fraud, theft from program receiving federal funds, and one count of false statements. He pleaded not guilty at his arraignment last week at the U.S. District Court for the Northern Mariana Islands.
The petition is urging Atalig to remove himself from the daily official activities of the Office of the Mayor pending the verdict of the District Court and the CNMI Superior Court, where he faces an almost similar charge related to a Guam political party rally.
Atalig has pleaded not guilty in federal court to all of the charges that he and his girlfriend, Evelyn Atalig, used CNMI government funds for their trips to California, Guam, Palau, and Saipan.
“We, the undersigned registered voters and legal residents of Rota, do hereby petition Mayor Atalig to disassociate himself from the Office of the Mayor of the municipality of Rota immediately,” reads the online petition.
The petition states that Atalig, being the Rota mayor, remains influential to all resident department directors under his office despite his pending court hearings. It also stated that Atalig traveled to Guam, allegedly using taxpayers’ money, to check the Guam DRMO federal facility to check and purchase military surplus equipment to be used by the municipality. Instead, he purportedly attended a political rally.
“There was no reservation or appointment made for this visit and thus when the mayor’s party arrived at the site, they were refused by the DRMO official,” stated the petition.
It added that Atalig allegedly used government funds in chartering a private airline service to Guam and back to Rota for his group for the purpose of having a political party there. “The [Guam trip] was a political party of the Rota [GOP], which Atalig is a candidate seeking for re-election.”
Despite the charges against him at federal court and Superior Court, Atalig managed to win in last month’s election, garnering 576 votes. Julie Marie O. Manglona came second with 487 votes, followed by Senate vice president Steve K. Mesngon (345), Crispin M. Ayuyu (135), and Richard E. Taisacan (61).
If Atalig is convicted, Manglona could become the next Rota mayor.