‘Probe is going to be step by step process’


House Speaker Edmund S. Villagomez (Ind-Saipan) said Friday that the House Judiciary and Governmental Operations Committee’s investigation into Gov. Ralph DLG. Torres’ expenditures is going to be a methodical, step-by-step process.

He described Friday afternoon’s meeting of the JGO Committee as just the first step of looking into Torres’ expenditures. “Just an opening to the investigation,” he said, adding that the investigation is almost similar to what was done in the 21st Legislature.

Villagomez, who attended the meeting, said the JGO members were just going through the procedural process. “As far as I know, it’s just the opening of the investigation. It’s going to be a step-by-step process,” he said.

The previous House Special Committee on Fiscal Review of Executive Expenditures chaired by Rep. Ralph N. Yumul (R-Saipan), which then-Speaker Blas Jonathan Attao had created to review Torres’ expenditures, was unable to reach a decision in the matter.

The 21st House minority bloc also submitted a report that stated the records they reviewed showed that Torres took 102 trips that cost the CNMI government at least $490,000 in airfare, per diem and stipends, lodging, ground transportation, boat transportation, fuel, and incidentals from January 2015 to July 2020.

Babauta had said if the committee’s findings warrant it, it could lead to impeachment raps against Torres.

When sought for comments, press secretary Kevin Bautista said the administration welcomes all legitimate inquiries, but last Friday’s JGO public hearing made it clear “that the Democrats prioritize politics over the people.”

Bautista noted that under the Democratic-led House, revenue-generating bills proposed by Republicans and community partners remain in committee.

“It’s been six months into the legislative term and so far only one public law has been enacted,” said Bautista, adding that the bill was authored by a Republican in coordination with vital private sector leaders to develop the CNMI’s economy, fix the permitting process, and create more jobs for the people.

He said the Democratic-led House continues to push for their political agenda, which consists of a political witch hunt on people they do not like, a focus on mainland political issues, and regional conferences to promote their personal platforms.

“In the process, the Democrats leave people behind by not having constructive conversations about our economy and the people that depend on policy solutions.” Bautista said.

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 ferdie_delatorre@Saipantribune.com
Disclaimer: Comments are moderated. They will not appear immediately or even on the same day. Comments should be related to the topic. Off-topic comments would be deleted. Profanities are not allowed. Comments that are potentially libelous, inflammatory, or slanderous would be deleted.