The House Judiciary and Governmental Operations Committee will start its investigation into Gov. Ralph DLG Torres’ expenditures this Wednesday, with three witnesses summoned to appear.
Committee chair Rep. Celina R. Babauta (D-Saipan) said Thursday that two of the potential witnesses have already received the committee’s 1309 letters, asking them to appear before the committee at 2pm.
She said the third person would be served the 1309 letter last Thursday night.
A Letter 1309 in the Commonwealth Code refers to the acquisition of information by other lawful means.
Babauta said they are very cautious because they don’t want to witnesses destroying any evidence. “We would like to get to the truth,” she said.
Babauta announced last Friday the start of the investigation pertaining to Torres’ expenditures related to COVID-19 procurement, Imperial Pacific International (CNMI) LLC matters, and travel and reimbursements.
At Friday’s JGO meeting, House Committee on Federal and Foreign Affairs chair Rep. Vicente Camacho (D-Saipan) stated that the “history of fraud, waste, and abuse within the Executive Branch and the blatant disregard and disrespect toward the citizens of the Commonwealth by Torres” has the citizens crying to end the injustice.
During the public comment portion of the JGO meeting, Sen. Edith E. DeLeon Guerrero (D-Saipan) said it’s quite a relief in a sense that, finally, there’s going to be some discussions and also subpoenas for certain individuals, department heads, and appointees of this government to answer to the people and to answer to the committee about the “abuses of government on funding and the use of public funds for personal gain.”
“In my opinion, certain elected officials, I would say that they consider this position as a way to have some kind of windfall, which is very unfortunate because…we get to see that a lot happening as we speak,” DeLeon Guerrero said.
She urged the JGO Committee members to be diligent in conducting the investigation. “Subpoena everybody and anybody that may have been involved in the acts against the people of this Commonwealth,” she said.
Press secretary Kevin Bautista on Sunday characterized the JGO investigation as a political tactic.
Bautista said the JGO meeting was characterized by choreographed speeches and public comments by a sitting senator who should be focused on senatorial issues.