The Second Political Status Commission will be traveling all over the CNMI to seek the community’s position on the current status of the Commonwealth’s political union with the United States.
Commissioners will be holding public meetings with people to discuss the different types of political statuses, to hear from people their views on the positives and negatives of being a Commonwealth, and to gather public opinion on whether they want to remain in a political relationship with the United States or not.
“We’re basically going to hear from the community and all the islands, Saipan, Tinian, Rota, and just get a feedback of what people feel so far with our relationship with the United States. Then, we gather all that information,” commissioner Rosemond B. Santos said.
“We also present the types of government entities, whether we want to be an independent government, whether we want to be something like FSM [Federated State of Micronesia], or the Republic of the Marshall Islands, or Palau, or a state,” she added.
The commission, according to Public Law 19-63, has the responsibility to examine the political relationship of the NMI and the United States and determine whether the people of the CNMI are still in favor of being in a political union with the U.S.
It is also their role to examine actions taken by the U.S. that contradict and violate the provisions and spirit of the Covenant.
“We’re going to be presenting the political statuses for our people to decide, and critical to that is: What are the advantages and disadvantages of each political status? Of course, we encourage everybody to do their own due diligence,” commissioner John O. Gonzales added.
The commission will start their public outreach on Rota tomorrow, Jan 28, 6pm at the Rota Mayor’s Office in Tatachog, and then the following day, Jan. 29, 6pm at the Rota Courthouse in Sinapalo. Outreach for Tinian will be on February.
“There’s going to be very, very important, immediate questions,” commission vice chair Frank Rabauliman said. “Why are we changing the political status now? Why are we wasting time on all of these and stuff?”
“We’ve been a Commonwealth for the last four decades, and I think it’s important that, once in a while, we revisit that relationship with the United States, because there’s many unilateral actions by the United States that raise these issues,” Rabauliman added. “We want to assess the situation and allow the future generations to anticipate the issues and make those decisions decisively and be informed and as educated citizens.”
Aside from the meetings and hearings in the villages, the commission will also be putting up a website, to serve as an strategic portal for people on island and for citizens abroad to provide their input.
The commission would submit its recommendations and final report to the CNMI Legislature for review and approval prior to submission to the Commonwealth Election Commission, who would then present the political status options to qualified voters.
The first Marianas Political Status Commission was formed back in 1972, which carved the Covenant in 1976 that officially made the CNMI a self-governing U.S. territory.