WITH STOREOWNERS’ HELP, INTRODUCTION OF M/V LUTA
ROTA—The prices of commodities on Rota used to be 30 to 35 percent higher compared to Saipan, but with storeowners’ help and the introduction of cargo ship M/V Luta, it is now only 25 percent higher, according to Rota Mayor Efraim M. Atalig.
In an interview, Atalig said the storeowners themselves realized that they need to help people of the island by lowering their prices.
In addition to that, Atalig said, the operation of M/V Luta has helped bring prices down.
“So it works between the merchants and the shipping company. I believe between these two working partners, we will be able to bring the prices down further,” the mayor pointed out.
Contrary to misconception that M/V Luta is just sitting idle on Rota, Atalig said it is very active, bringing in commodities, canned goods, cars, and equipment to the island.
As a matter of fact, the mayor said, M/V Luta had just docked on Friday from Guam.
Before the cargo boat went to Guam, it came from Saipan, bringing in commodities, containers, cars, and equipment, he said.
Two weeks ago, Atalig said, M/V Luta brought in five types of heavy equipment for the Rota municipality out of Guam. He said the equipment included a grader, dump trucks, flat beds, and a tractor. Although not new, Atalig assured that they are in very good condition, coming from military surpluses.
Atalig said every shipment that comes either from Guam or Tinian also brings in vehicles for residents.
On the M/V Luta controversy, Atalig urged people to just focus on “moving forward.”
The mayor cited recent newspaper articles quoting the Office of the Attorney General’s assertion that Lt. Gov. Victor B. Hocog did nothing wrong over the transfer of $400,000 in government funds to Luta Mermaid LLC, which owns M/V Luta, as he was only involved as then-Rota senator over the passage of a resolution, which is not an appropriations bill.
“Perhaps maybe it’s a political thing. Whether it’s political or not, the point is we have to embrace it because it’s here for our people. If it’s doing something wrong, of course we would stop,” Atalig said.
The mayor said he is very glad that M/V Luta is here. “It’s helping. We have weekly cargo service now,” he said.
Last May, former Department of Public Lands secretary John DelRosario filed a taxpayer’s lawsuit against Hocog and Finance Secretary Larrisa Larson over the alleged adoption of a Rota Legislative Delegation Resolution 19-3 without public notice that purportedly authorized payment of $400,000 to Luta Mermaid LLC, a private company owned by Hocog’s relatives.
DelRosario is suing Hocog and Larson for breach of fiduciary duties, and expenditure of public funds for an improper purpose. In addition, Hocog is being sued for violation of the Open Government Act.